I was born and raised in the Mormon Church. Baptized in Arizona, and finally left the church while living in Utah. I noticed subtle difference in the strict structure and lack of individuality between the Utah Mormons and Arizona Mormons.
There was a deep sense of oppression inUtah; it felt dark and claustrophobic. I remember as a child whenever my family drove into Utah this thick air of anxiety that would come over me and the opposite happened when we were leaving Utah, noticeable relief. Although I saw so much beauty in the state, and I absolutely loved being with my family there, it was as if just underneath the beauty I saw in nature was ugliness and darkness.
When I got older my sister and mother both at different times told me they felt the same thing. Since coming to Christ I no longer feel that smothering cloud of darkness, but I still feel its subtle oppression, when I visit. I know this is not tested and tried scientific evidence of demonic activity, but I also know I’m not the only one who experienced it.
Not all of my family was Mormon, and those of us who were, were not extra-active. I was never told I had to go to church, not by my family at least. I had a choice of whether to attend or not. I’m not sure how to explain why I had such a love for the church, when as I look back on my Mormon days the only real values I gleaned from it were all of a superficial nature.
I learned to judge others, I learned to look a particular way (like all the other Mormons), and I learned that we were not free to express ourselves, our questions or concerns. I come from a large family and a large church and yet felt so alone and so unworthy of love. I rarely had the occasion of trusting the love that others would express to me. I began to perceive a level of superficial love and compassion within my own family and within my church family. The degree of hypocrisy and fakeness saddened me greatly. That you could not get what the others got or get where the others got by being honest, was a confusing, subtle lesson for me.
We did not often speak of the real gospel or doctrine in the church. It was another unspoken rule, not just in the Wards I attended, but in my family and little town of Mormonville. Anything doctrinal was taboo. We could freely converse about the good-works and programs of the church, but didn’t openly discuss anything beneath the surface. I once asked my Young Women’s leader, a “good”, temple-Mormon, and my best-friend a question regarding some doctrine I could not find in the Book of Mormon. She would have, I’m sure discussed it with me, because of our close relationship, had she known the answer, or even how to find the answer.
She told me she didn’t know, but that her husband did. This was around the beginning of my search for truth, and around the same time I realize that I, my Mormon friends and Mormon family knew very little about Mormon doctrine. This was a mostly by word-of mouth church. Never really feeling it was ok to dig in and do my own investigation of the real teachings. A feeling, based on strong implications.
We were only supposed to know what the leaders wanted us to know. I was very discouraged and confused. Certain other things happened, where leaders or peers would have issues, and the advice given was simply to turn to the church, the Church will give you strength to endure. I wondered why the topic of Jesus Christ was even taboo, in a church named for Him. Of course I didn’t know him, nor did those of my friends I dared prod about the subject. He wasn’t in my home, and t dawned on me gradually, that He wasn’t in the Church.
Any logical and straight-forward morals I was taught really came from my non-Mormon father. While I saw conflicting morals in the church, an outward appearance of purity and charitableness, and the inward workings of conniving, insincerity, double-talk, and cover-ups. My non-Mormon dad (although very reserved and hesitant to discuss behind the scene-workings) showed me what honesty, integrity and goodness really looked like. I learned more biblical values from my non-Mormon dad than I ever did from the Mormon Church. I grew up insecure, guilt-ridden, confused and scared. I had no self-worth, no real value. The most profound beliefs I received in Mormonism, was that God did not give me a brain to think with, but to accept that the thinking had already been done for me. That I was not worthy enough to have my questions answered. That my Bishops spoke for God, and yet never once reached out to me when I was being sexually and emotionally abused.
I was worthy enough to get baptized for the dead, but not to have my questions about the what’s and why’s of it answered. That anyone who really did what they were invited to do and “investigate” the Church was a workman of Satan. The Tanners were devils, and the makers of the movie “God-Makers” where evil conspirators against the True Church. I was counseled about such things as obeying the speed limit and not reading anti-Mormon literature. I grew up believing that I somehow deserved the abuse I had experienced my entire life. The glory of anything good happening in the church was given to the “church”, and ultimately the “prophets”, but especially to Joseph Smith.
Anything bad happening in the church was the individuals own personal weakness. I, apparently being oddly honest, was one of those in my circle of Mormon friends, who could not stand up and give a testimony, just to fit in and appear spiritual. A suggestion by friends who could identify with my not wanting to “fake” my testimony, was given that it didn’t matter if you had a testimony now, but that I needed to get up and mimic others until I had one of my own, that by saying the words often enough, I would come to believe them, and then my testimony would become true. If that’s not self-delusion and a form of brainwashing.
I remember a group of girls getting counseled for skipping certain church meetings, and expressing envy that because my father wasn’t a Mormon, I had more free-will to come and go as I wished, than they did. My parents (non-Mormon dad and Mormon step-mom) went to visit my grandma and other family on Sundays, so there were times that I had to leave church early if I wanted to go with them. Anyway, I did not get counseled for skipping certain meetings. I’m guessing it was because they didn’t want to stir things up with my non-Mormon dad. One of the things I have observed since leaving the Mormon Church, even before I surrendered my life to Christ is that generally free-thinkers (non-Mormons) have entirely different understandings of honesty, morality, unconditional love, charity, humility, etc, than do the Mormons.
It’s a hard and humbling thing to admit when you’ve been duped, even when the writing’s on the wall (literally in some instances).I love each and every Mormon dearly. It’s the doctrine of the church itself that I hate, not the individual Mormons.
I know there is still hope for the victims of Mormonism. The older I get, the more often I am led to witness to Mormons. It is one of the most heart-breaking things I’ve had to face. How hypocritical is it to send out missionaries to give us heathens the “truth”, and then accuse us of “Mormon-bashing” when we in turn share The Truth? Double standards are the norm in Mormonism. I had a member of the local bishopric sit in my living room with two missionaries (who had been here the week before and brought him back to “deal” with me) and tell me that they too were born-again, they too were Christian. Then when I expressed my desire to have my name removed from the books, tell me how I was voluntarily forfeiting my salvation by doing so. Obviously there was a break down in defining the Mormon definition of “born-again” and “Christian, not to mention “salvation”. We were not speaking the same language.
The carnal mind cannot understand the things of the Spirit, nor the mind of Christ. I do have ex-Mormon family and friends to fellowship with, which helps a lot, as some Christians who have not had much experience with Mormonism, and don’t really understand the depth of darkness in it tend to assume that witnessing to a Mormon is just like witnessing to any non-believer. It certainly is a lesson in picking up your cross, following Jesus and denying self. I left the church 20 years ago, and have gone through various stages and experiences since leaving. I left after being told one too many times that I wasn’t worthy enough to attain certain information regarding the doctrine. Granted I was not the good little Mormon girl I was supposed to be, but in retrospect I was not a bad person either. I deserved to know the truth just as much as anyone else. The problem wasn’t that I wasn’t worthy, but that I wasn’t willing to accept that faith meant closing your eyes to the evidence, or that the intentions of my heart weren’t right. It took along time for the effects of Mormonism to wear off, in fact just the other day I was enlightened to the fact that I still was carrying a particular incorrect doctrine, which was corrected by the Word of God.
When I started attending Christian churches, I still had that belief of having lost my salvation, and that I would never be able to reclaim it. I hit and missed churches for years, I picked up little truths here and there, and witnessed the liberty others had in Christ. I began studying the bible on my own, and praying as a completely broken and unsaved soul. Even though I believed I could never be saved myself, I still had a desire to do God’s will while I still had time on this earth. Then the babies started coming.
When my first son was about 3 years old, I decided I needed to find a Christian church to ensure he was being fed truth and give this beautiful, innocent child a chance. An amazing thing happened. As we attended church the idea that there was still hope for my own soul came up. I began a feverish study on the work and message of Jesus Christ. I was shown that although it was true I was not sin free, He still loved me. That even though I could not do works worthy enough of His gift, it was free.
His love and mercy outweighed any earthly law. His suffering and sacrifice far exceeded anything I could ever experience. He wasn’t asking me to earn His acceptance, He wasn’t judging my works. And He truly knew the intentions of my heart. If I was experiencing His love and mercy while still yet a sinner, how could I doubt the effect of the price He paid for my salvation. It was “finished”, It was final.
Well, I didn’t just jump right in and ask to be baptized, I still stubbornly held onto this crazy notion that I had to change more, do more, before I could accept His offer. I was still not good enough. It wasn’t until my son was scheduled to be baptized (he was 13) in a Christian church that I finally, completely surrendered my life, my thinking, my entire being to Christ. I got baptized on the same day my son did, and the flood of emotion and spiritual reality of not only my son giving his life to Christ, accepting the most wonderful gift, and demonstrating his acceptance and love of Jesus, but also of the reality that I was really saved by the blood of Christ overwhelmed me. I began to cry, praise God and thank Jesus uncontrollably. I had to actually walk outside of the church because I could not contain what I was feeling. I was HIS! My son was HIS! And no one could take that away from us.
Its one thing to realize what you believe is not true, but at the other end of that spectrum, an entirely different thing once you understand that you really have found the truth, rather you were chosen to find that truth. My Father in heaven chose me. He gave me to His only begotten Son. He nailed my sin and the consequences of my sin to His cross. He paid the price so that I might have life.
I have been led to study Mormonism for years, and I have studied it off and on for years. I tend to put it away when I just don’t feel strong enough to deal with it, and to acknowledge that I have numerous friends and family still being held captive in it. Every time I get back into my Mormon studies, which has gradually been happening at closer and closer intervals of time, I find myself with the opportunity to witness, at my door, in the park, on the phone, etc. or a friend of mine is suddenly being bombarded by visiting Mormons. For an ex-Mormon it is not an easy task to witness to a Mormon. The Mormon has a peculiar way of thinking. They tend to be quite offended when they hear the truth. You can see a change in their eyes, in their manner when they realize that you actually have been given some knowledge about their church history, practices and beliefs. You can watch them flip the reception switch off. If they can make themselves not listen, then they won’t hear, and they won’t have to face any doubts or questions. Some I have spoken to listen, but rarely comprehend, because of the difference in the language we speak. Most go on the defense immediately and their whole stature transforms before your eyes. They get this look that reminds me of a rebellious teenager, refusing to focus on what is being said, because their own pride won’t allow them to acknowledge that it’s true, what you have to say is just not important, they have a way of telling you without saying it, that you couldn’t possibly have any real knowledge, therefore they can’t possibly consider what you’re saying serious. I have tried to avoid witnessing to Mormons, ever since I admitted I was being led to do just that. Partly, because I have not desired to upset the family (mostly my non-Mormon dad, whom I have enormous respect for). I am now to the point of whether I feel ready or not, I can’t deny the calling of God anymore.
Doing God’s will does not always mean staying cozily in your comfort zone, but stepping outside that your fleshly comfort, and reaching out to places that if it was your own human will to be done, you would not journey to. I know God loves these Mormons just as much as He loved me, and loves me. Witnessing to anyone, including Mormons is not about insults and bashing. It’s about laying out the simple, attainable truth in the light of the Word of God and letting God bring them to the truth. As a witness to Mormons, I know I will be judged and sentenced by their man-made laws, and their indoctrinated hearts. I know the passion and intentions of my heart will be misconstrued as hostility, and I’m looking to God to make sure I’m justified and approachable. I know that anything can be accomplished if I rely completely on Him and not on self.
I know that I may not get to see the fruit of my efforts in the Mormon, I may not be able to boast or take any of God’s glory for myself, but I also know that I will get to see the fruit of my efforts within my own life. I never would have imagined the love and mercy waiting for me in Christ Jesus while still in Mormonism. And if there is a chance, and I know there is, for even a single Mormon to realize this love and mercy, then stepping outside of my comfort zone is trivial nonsense in light of what Jesus did for us.