Saturday, June 23, 2012

How I arrived at where I am

No, this is not a post about the myth of the Mormon Pre-existence.  Someone just asked me how I converted to Christ.  I wrote a long reply and then decided to put it here too in case anyone else would like to know:

I was a teenage convert to Mormonism, so I believe my family is heaving a sigh of relief that I finally woke up. Most of them are church-goers in the South.  So far I've only revealed my change to a few staunch LDS friends (besides the few who weren't members or active members).  So far no one has shunned me.  I know that a couple are profoundly shocked because I was an active Mormon for most of my life, having served a mission, married in the temple, etc.  One did such a double-take I really thought she'd pass out on me.  Another active member of Mormon pioneer ancestry took it so well she actually joked with me over my change of underwear.

How did my change happen? I started reading the Bible.

Little wedges of doubt had started when the LDS church worked so hard against marriage equality in California.  I have a female cousin who has had a wife for years.  I can't imagine asking her to give up her spouse and yet my former church wanted me to give time and money to fight against people just like her.  I couldn't find anything in any of the LDS scriptures where Jesus spoke directly against homosexuals, so I started researching in the Bible too.  I saw that people could argue both sides, but again Jesus never rejected anyone and never made one plain statement about gay people.  I couldn't believe His "true church" ought to actively use politics to persecute people.

Time passed and I decided to read the Bible cover to cover.  I'd never done it although I'd read some selections for Sunday School and for other classes.  I had read the other "standard works" of the LDS church multiple times.  They seemed easier to comprehend.  No offense to the King James Version, but it was hard for me to understand, and it's the version the church uses.  (And you may be aware that the church says they believe in the Bible "insofar as it is translated correctly."  So using the Bible as you talk to members may be hard since a lot don't trust it anyway.)

I started with Genesis and compared the creation story in it to the one in the Book of Abraham.  Then I got online (thank Heaven for the Internet) and researched the Book of Abraham.  I'd never had a reason to doubt it before, so when I saw a link to a scholarly site assessing its validity, I went there.  Oops. Suddenly I had BIG questions.  I stayed up all that night reading page after page about the church, the "prophets," and its "scriptures."  The sites were done by former members or Christian ministries and weren't what I expected when it came to "anti-Mormon" literature.

I missed church that Sunday morning after my all-night vigil, and all the Sundays after that.  I never went back.  I couldn't because it would be dishonest.  I was and still am sad to not see the people I care about each week. I asked to have my name removed and here I am, a free agent looking for a team.

Soon I passed through a few difficult days where I really wondered if there even was a God.  I had spent decades of my life making most of my decisions based on a lie.  But at the close of that first night of research I told God out loud that I was going to act on the belief that He was there even though I wasn't sure how to talk to him or if anything I had learned was true.

I started right in on getting different translations of the Bible and gathering lots of books written by Christians.  My doubts about God's existence finally stopped when I read Lee Strobel's "Case for a Creator."  Now I am reading all the way in Judges and coming to appreciate more and more God's love and genius.

In closing, I think I only once spoke to a Christian outside Temple Square.  I remember feeling sorry that they were missing out on the Book of Mormon. Now I shake my head at the arrogance I had then.  I wish I had listened sooner.  On the other hand, I pray that my former faithfulness to the LDS church will help me inspire current members to come to the real Savior, Jesus, and trust Him, not in all those works they always feel they have to do to be worthy.

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