My cousin Ferron and I are blessed to have a Bishop that understands and fully supports our need to serve LDS missions. He has assigned us the perfect counselor and mentor to prep us with lessons and every aspect of acquiring all the necessary steps before actually leaving, our former Bishop Lee Burdge. As far as church goes, Bishop Burdge has been the biggest influence I had as a teenager in actually helping me along those years to make a commitment to serve a mission. It seems very fitting that I started my journey in Minnesota with Bishop Burdge and it would be the right thing for him to complete this part of my journey with me.
I was browsing the web looking for random missionary and Mormon stuff and came across some very disturbing sites from ex-members and a whole bunch of angry people who really have a deep hatred for the church and anything LDS affiliated. Crazy hatred for anything of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They used everything from our church's doctrine to cast a bad light on our Prophets to showing garments, temple clothing and temple ceremonies. These sites attacked the law of tithing (which coincidentally we didn't come up with) and said our church is out to make a profit by exploiting the members to give money constantly and some sites insinuated that our need for female members are to keep them pregnant and brainwashed for domestic slaves. The writers of that site has obviously not met my mother or many of the "strong" LDS sisters in the church or they would know that is NOT the case.
Some sites told stories of getting our missionaries to serve young because they could be easily brainwashed and had the stamina and physically were prepared to give the "sales pitch" at any time and were too stupid to care if they were rejected by anyone. I have my own personal theories on why I know in my heart serving an LDS mission is what I choose to do and although some might find it debatable, I do NOT think I have this desire because I'm " too stupid." I know I will get doors slammed on me, people who will completely ignore me and if I baptize anyone, even more reason to believe in faith and small miracles. Rejection hurts me every time but it's a part of life, so I highly doubt being young will make it any less real for me when it happens. Isn't that something you deal with your entire lifetime? These sites and the things I browsed through were disturbing for me to say the least. I am not deterred from what will happen and luckily for me, I don't walk around in JUST underwear in public, so when I do join the "magic underwear" club, no one but my wife will be privileged enough see me wearing them.
During the summer, my parents asked me to explain the "Hie to Kolob" thing. My father didn't know anything about Kolob much less trying to "Hie" to it when he was baptized. My mom is a life time member of the church and didn't know much about this. It wasn't until a "less active" member compared the Mormons to Scientology that my parents asked me, of all people to explain this concept to them. I did and then I asked my mom, why she would raise our family in a church where she found some of the teachings 'sketchy'?
My mom came up with a few interesting answers and she explained:
"In life we have choices. In our choices, there are NO victims. Just volunteers. Because I find some of the things in church sketchy, does not mean I am right or I know everything. Because someone says we believe in crazy concepts like Kolob, it does not mean they are right or know any better." She proceeded to explain to our whole family that the story behind God creating a world in 6 days sounds crazy. She also said the whole story of Jesus and the Atonement sounds crazy IF you choose it to be. My mom told us if she had the choice, she would choose to be Catholic like my grandfather's family because it's easier and the guilt process in repentance is so much more convenient, but once you KNOW the truth, that "choice" was not an option anymore.
There is love, respect and tolerance among the LDS Presidency and members for those who have left us and even those who bitterly campaign against us. Those who show our temple garments and "magic underwear" publicly, those who find humor in stereotyping who the Mormons are, I say there is love for you still in the church. Personally, I don't want to be quick to judgment with those that have a bitter hate for the church and it's members. If I am foolish for choosing this religion, it's my choice. If our gospel principles and policies upset you enough to write such hateful things against the church, only the weak will be swayed.
Logically there are many more reasons to leave the church than stay a member. This is a very hard religion. This is a hard commitment. There is much WORK and much faith you must have to be a member in good standing. The concepts of a living Prophet that talks to God seems crazy. In the Bible thousands of years ago, the concept of having a Prophet was just as crazy. Joseph Smith or the prophet I struggle to understand but admittedly have issues with, Brigham Young - are they men or prophets of God? or both? The church history and Polygamy is hard to take in. ALL doctrines and practices in the church can seem questionable and for someone who is NOT a member or a former member, all these things past or present can be rejected.
Here are more reasons for once active members to leave the church and give some people reason to write hateful things about the church:
The work involved - the time that is consumed home teaching or visiting teaching.
More than likely you will get the opportunity to serve in a position at your ward. Meetings, activities and assignments, oh my.
What about the high moral standards you are expected to follow?
Then there are those who left because they were snubbed, offended, had serious issues with "sustaining" certain members or became prey for gossip.
What about the principle of tithing while you are barely making ends meet in your homes?
What about not being an "elite" member, the temple recommend holder because you missed the mark slightly on the other stuff?
What about those who have never felt the need to be part of an organized religion or reject the belief of being in the one "true" church?
I won't even pretend to have logical or well thought out answers for all these questions and things that happen in church. Here is my reference to the naysayer and non-believer:
Matthew 7: 7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you
I am continuously learning and I see that faith is the main reason I choose this church and I acquire knowledge by constant study and prayer. I follow the gospel principles of my own choice because it would seem a bit asinine to show up to church every Sunday and NOT apply any good principles I am taught in my personal life. That would be comparable to going to school and NOT learning anything. If that were the case, I could stay home every Sunday, relax and catch a sports game and complain about how I'm too busy to go to be around those hypocrites at church.
What I am sure of is that Christ lives and that there is a science to life. Like science, there are rules that need to be applied to get the expected results. Like science, NOT everything is logical or has every questioned answered. Like science, if you don't study the material or get to know what living things are before you, even if they can not be seen with the human eye, it can still exist. It isn't any less real because you say it is.
My mom said something I thought lightheartedly summed up her will to make sure her kids and our future generations stay in the church, "It's our choice to be Mormon and if it is a crazy one, hang on for the ride cause were gonna' hie to Kolob." I think I'm going to volunteer myself to live by that motto.
6 months ago