"Why We Left" has been read by thousands of people.
I want to express a sincere gratitude for the information these people have researched and provided, and the insight they've given to others who might have a close-minded or ignorant view on the Mormon religion.
If you haven't read the post, "Why We Left" is about a couple who left the Mormon religion after doing historical research and having heightened concerns about Joseph Smith, the prophet whom restored the gospel in this dispensation.
I am a Mormon. I agree with most of their valid concerns. I've shared one main concern since my late teenage years, and it has plagued me even to this day.
As I read "Why We Left", I thought to myself, "Wow...this is almost exactly how I felt a couple years ago."
I totally understand why people have feelings of confusion or even bitterness toward the Mormon religion, especially when they discover some of the things they've been taught throughout their whole lives have been "misleading".
By the churches own admission, "intent to deceive" "omission" and "silence" are all acts of lying. Therefore, topics they've stayed "silent" on or have maybe "omitted" from their Sunday School lessons have left folks like the authors of "Why We Left"--AND ME--to feel lied to at times.
I want the world to know something.
Why I Stayed.
If you dig deep enough into any religious background, you are gonna find ugly things.
Skeletons in all the historical closets.
When I, myself, wanted to do some religious research and decide which religion I was going to pin my heart to, I found out a lot about many "popular" religions that scared me.
Blood atonements, child sacrifices, sexual abuse, incest, orgies, polygamy. These elements have been around from the beginning of time. They're actually even spoken of in the bible. The truth is, we will never understand everything God does or why, until we get into the afterlife. The Alpha and Omega created the world. He is in control. There must be a reason for everything. If I don't understand it now, I am required to have faith--as stated in the Bible and BOM--which is believing without seeing. Basically, every Christian religion out there has something yucky in its history that I find repulsive, confusing, ritualistic. And, let's be real, there is a whack-job every ten feet! If I had to leave a religion because of a whack-job doing some whack-job nonsense, I'd never be worshipping God. I would be focusing instead on the character weaknesses of others, which is a sin...according to God...and the Bible...and Christianity...
I've been told my whole life to "have faith" to "pray" to "read the scriptures" to find answers. Sometimes, it is just plain hard to have faith. Sometimes I DO pray and don't receive an intelligible answer. I read my scriptures, but with thousands of translations, and several editions, it is hard to know if they're 100% accurate. It is difficult for a skeptical human like me to believe in one man, or believe in "mankind" at all...with mankind's history of manipulating authority and power...
The truth is, I am a Mormon for this reason: I believe in Christ and I want to be the best person I can, utilizing the knowledge of the religion I know the most about. Mormonism is based on the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Quite frankly, I don't care if there are grammatical errors in either. I don't care if someone stuck their face in a boot and sniffed dirty socks when they translated it. I don't even care if it turns out to be a total farce and "to dust I shall return" because once I die, I'll be six feet under in a comfy bed of worms without prior awareness or consciousness. Boom. The end. And I won't have lived a lesser life because I tried to be a solid Christian.
I believe in Jesus Christ. He is the same in both books. The Bible and the Book of Mormon. His ministry is the same. His gospel is the same.
I want to follow His gospel.
Why I Stayed in the LDS Church:
1. Mormons are good people. The church as an organization is ran by volunteer effort, they don't make money like most church leaders do, they spend countless amounts of dollars for their members and for non members alike, assisting in world tragedies, donating service and time and supplies, creating charities, and staying involved. Of course people are fallible and make mistakes. Dare I point out the massive mistakes other religious persons have made? No. I can't even bring myself to go there. While Mormon people are human and not exempt from human error, the Mormon faith is a good faith based on Jesus Christ and God the Father. I will never know on a personal level whether mortal leaders manipulate this gospel or teach something untrue in a Sunday School class, but if I feel doubts I take it to my knees and to my Father in Heaven. If He can placate my heart, and tell me to get up and go on in the world, I will temporarily disregard a teaching that has left me confused and continue walking in Christ's footsteps.
Whack-job 101, friends.
2. By their own admission, you can feel joy and happiness regardless of faith and practice. I feel joy serving in my church and volunteer work. I feel joy seeing the faces of the toddlers in the nursery room, and singing songs with them about Jesus. I would never lie to them or intentionally deceive them. If a child asks me a question about the LDS doctrine, I'll quote them something from LDS.org...even if it isn't "pretty". Maybe that will tick off a parent or two, but at least it is the truth. Kids shouldn't be lied to and they should be given the opportunity to know everything about their religion so they can make an honest, voluntary choice about being baptized into that religion.
3. God has manifested to me that good, pure people will make it back to Him. If someone in the history of the Mormon church was a total bogus fraud, I feel sorry for that person. I still believe in the Bible and I still believe in Christ. Most Christian religions do, too. I also believe in the Book of Mormon and plenty of books written about Christ. There were many people who lived with Him and many who have witnessed Him. I won't limit my testimony to one book. Therefore, I'm entitled to stay in the Mormon religion and do my best to be good, pure, honest, virtuous, and charitable. Perhaps I can even sway some of the more judgmental type to be more kind and loving!
4. I have seen miracles performed within the Mormon church that I simply cannot deny. Now, you can chalk that up to "coincidence" if you want. Believe me, I've wondered that hundreds of times. "If a good person says a desperate prayer in times of need, it shouldn't matter what religion he belongs to--God would answer." Well, the miracles I've witnessed have been specific and many have specifically pertained to the priesthood power worthy men of the Mormon faith are ordained with. It could be a coincidence. Plenty of miracles occur for people who do not have the LDS priesthood. I will never know one way or the other, at least not until I meet God face to face and ask Him myself. Did you perform these miracles by the priesthood power ordination given to worthy Mormon men?
If in the end, we both make it to the pearly gates, and God cracks a huge smile and says, "You Mormons! What made you think of such a crazy religion?" I won't even care, because I will have made it back to His presence.
Wings and halo=check.
There is always going to be something or someone I have an issue with. Mormonism is a great Christian religion, but it has a few doctrines I think are a little loopy. So what? Without naming other religions specifically, I'll say I have MAJOR problems with tons of other religions, their imperfections, the damning and faith-crushing incidents that have made even news headlines...and I cannot be an atheist because I have such a firm testimony of God and the Adversary...this leads to the conclusion that I am a Christian. And I choose to be a Mormon.
I wish I had something more intelligent to say. I wish I had the energy to cite websites and quote powerful leaders. I've done the research and read the information. I've been here and there, I've believed in God and been a total church-hater. I've been a heavy alcohol drinker, I've been divorced, I got remarried but haven't yet been sealed in the temple, and I probably hate polygamy more than even the authors of "Why We Left".
But this is Why I Stayed.
I don't belong to a cult. Not even close.
I'm not sacrificing animals or growing horns or attending orgies in secret rooms in white temples.
I'll point at the next Mormon whack-job, just like you would. But the religion as a whole is Christ-based and the people worshiping in LDS churches on Sundays are trying to be good people. A human on a pulpit will probably say something offensive and rude on accident...heck I do it on the regular. But they want to make it to the Pleasing Bar of God, just like YOU do.
The authors of "Why We Left" were incredibly brave. I could never have that much courage. Where we live, and the standards Utah Mormons in particular put on "Mormons" would make it excruciating to be "different" from family and friends. I applaud them for making a decision based on the freedoms and privileges our country was founded on.
I am in congruency with the idea of "transparency". I hope this was transparent enough.
Why I Stayed a Mormon and while I'll always stay.
"We honor their right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience, just as we claim that privilege for ourselves.”
–Dieter F. Uchtdorf, General Conference April 2013
By Brittany Shannon