What’s This Mormon Thing?

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Archive for July 5th, 2008

Why Do Mormons Leave The Church?

Posted by JLFuller on July 5, 2008

It is easy to blame people who loose their testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel as we understand and teach it. Sometimes we say they just didn’t try hard enough or they allowed their weakness to lead them astray or have some other reason for explaining the phenomenon. But it isn’t just Mormons who leave. Certainly the 300,000 former Baptists in the Deep South had their reasons for converting to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I suppose there are about as many reasons as there are people who convert – at least as they see it. In some cases the Holy Ghost provides the confirmation we seek but probably not in each case. 

 

Years ago, a prospective member had to wait a year before being baptized.  Even today members who marry outside the temple have to wait a year before being sealed. It may be a worthiness thing but I have to think most need time to contemplate and thoroughly understand the step they are taking. The implication is people make decisions based on incomplete or erroneous information. That is part of the  human condition. I think there is a higher order of understanding where such judgments are made with Divine help and to get there we have to get better control of the natural man. Not everyone is ready at the same point in their lives. I talk a little about that below.

  

Others say about former Mormon’s they evangelized that when presented with the truth, as they understand it, it resonated. Maybe thier version did resonate for some. But thier story is still just their version of the story we present. They have an opinion just as we our version. It resonates among some too. We humans look outside ourselves when unsatisfied with life. We seek answers to our questions. We want someone to fill in the blanks and be a source of truth. We want someone we can absolutely trust. We want someone to relieve our burden. It goes beyond just looking for greener pastures. We want certainty where uncertaintly exists. Anyone who can convince us he knows the way can have our allegiance. That makes being a Mormon harder – at least until we gain control over the natural man and achieve a plain where we can have the constant presence of the Holy Ghost.

 

No one wants to believe he messed things up, is not good enough or strong enough or, as is the the case with some Mormons, does not believe he will ever receive the Holy Ghost’s confirmation. So he may look at the brighter or more positive things the other guy presents and think it could be better. In one way, that is a positive thing. It makes us willing to try new things in an attempt to live a better life or in some other way improve our lot. 

 

But is it the Holy Ghost telling us to abandon our previous Church and go looking elsewhere or is it just us abandoning our discomfort with what we have become? Maybe it is something else. I suppose we all have to discover the answer ourselves. Anti-Mormons and legitimate critics alike lay claim to having the truth about the our Church and seek to prove we are not what we claim by what they believe is the unseemly behaviors of the founders of our Church. Some claim Brigham Young or others settled doctrinal questions 150 years ago despite what we teach these days. It is a favorite pass time. They protest and parade and make loud pronouncements about what they have found or what someone wrote. 

 

I think most members agree that if the Church is the restoration of the Gospel of Christ in its fullness, it should be able to stand a close inspection of all aspects of its history and leadership. I don’t disagree with that entirely. But I am old enough and well read enough and have sufficient understanding of the human condition to know that not everyone can handle the truth in all its bareness. But just as the truth must stand on its own merits, we may not be able to adequately judge the merits with the information we have.

 

That is where the Divine assistance comes in. Without it all we see is what others see. Without it, members with tender testimonies are challenged beyond their ability to understand the entirety. Without it they are left to make these judgments with only the aid of the understanding of men. I suggest that judgments with eternal significance are too important to make this way. Without Divine assistance we would make the same judgments others make when they rely solely on man’s understanding.

 

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