During General Conference this Sunday Elder M. Russell Ballard prepared a special message to those who are thinking of leaving the Church. The Deseret News highlighted some portions of his talk in an article. Below is a link to the article if you’d like to read it.
As a Mormon I was made to feel that my membership in the Church was the most important thing in my life. Countless General Conference talks, Sunday School and Relief Society lessons, along with the missionary discussions I had received when I first decided to join the Church had taught me that if I ever chose to leave Mormonism, I’d have nothing.
After a while I truly came to believe it, to the point that I never questioned anything I was taught, nor did I dare say anything that might lead someone to believe I didn’t honestly believe in the “Restored Gospel.”
I was brainwashed, and I promise you I don’t use that term lightly. When you’re taught over and over again to never question the Church, that the (Mormon) gospel is perfect, and that this is the one and only true church, it doesn’t take long for you to believe it.
It’s so depressing and heartbreaking to read what he said at Conference because it stirs up emotions inside of the person questioning the Church, and makes them feel obligated to stay even though they know something’s not right.
Before making the decision to leave the Church Ballard tells the individual “to stop and think carefully before giving up whatever it was that brought you to your testimony of the restored Church of Jesus Christ in the first place. Stop and think about what you have felt here and why you felt it. Think about the times when the Holy Ghost has born witness to you of eternal truth.”
Anytime I read things like this all those sappy, break up songs I’ve heard over the years flood my mind. Accept instead of guy, or a girl begging someone not to leave them, it’s the Mormon Church pleading with a church member not to leave. Where are you going to go if you leave? What are you going to do with the gospel (the Church) in your life? These are just a couple of the questions Mormons ask those who are considering leaving the Church.
As you can see from Ballard’s comment Mormons are very much into judging things based on feelings. It’s what makes people join the Church, and stay in it even though they may have some misgivings about its doctrine or history. It’s those feelings that also make them afraid to leave or consider going to church anywhere else, and sadly why many people who do break away for Mormonism become atheist.
He went on to say: “I don’t pretend to know why faith to believe comes easier for some than for others. I’m just so grateful to know that the answers are always there, and if we seek them — really seek with real intent and with full purpose of a prayerful heart — we will eventually find the answers to our questions as we continue on the Gospel path,” (emphasis mine)
Notice the words he uses here. From the very beginning, when they’re receiving the Missionary Discussions Mormons are taught the importance of praying and desiring to know the truth with “real intent”. If you don’t receive the answer that tells you the church is true, the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and that Joseph Smith was a prophet you must not have been praying with real intent and desire to know the truth. Otherwise you would have received the same answer the missionaries and every other member of the Church has received.
As I read over this article I had to stop and take a break from reading because it made me really irritated. I just wanted to look Mr. Ballard in the eye and say “What about Jesus?!” Jesus is “to whom” the individual can go when they discover Mormonism is a farce. It’s to Jesus they can run to when they feel their lives are falling apart because they no longer have a testimony in the Church or Joseph Smith, and are afraid they will lose their family because of it.
It’s Jesus who will give them that soft place to fall, and that shoulder to cry on when they don’t know where else to go, or what to do. He will love them unconditionally when they are rejected by the church leaders, friends, or family members who once accepted them with open arms.
Mormons may think they believe in Jesus but they don’t, what they have is a relationship with a religion. A relationship with Jesus doesn’t require membership in any one religion or church, it requires repentance, and faith in Him.
I pray for all those who are questioning Mormons but are too afraid to set out and do something about it. It’s a frightening time, I know, I was there. There is a place you can go and find rest, I pray you find it in Jesus Christ.