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On Leaving Religion

So today I did some reading of the stories of some former members of the LDS church. I'm always interested to know what drives people from the Church. Many of the things they question or doubt are things that puzzle me, too. It's always a little off-putting. I have served closely with human, imperfect leaders (and also was a human, imperfect RS president) who do things beyond their abilities. I've seen it. I believe it's God leading them. I've had experiences that prevent me from denying the power of the Priesthood, authenticity of the Book of Mormon, and that we have Prophets leading us.

Each person had his/her own story, usually intertwined with neighbors and friends, as a reason for leaving the Church. The multitude of reasons for leaving the Church doesn't seem a convincing reason to leave to me. We each also have a different reason for becoming or staying LDS, or perhaps any other faith, too. Then it occurred to me to wonder if the stories of ex-Catholics or ex-Methodists must also read very similarly to those of ex-Mormons. And they did, at least to me.

Each of the ex-religious could tell stories about guilty feelings, oppressive leaders, member hypocrisy, freaky ceremonies, or false doctrines. But they did seem to have one underlying similarity to my mind. In each case, they seemed to be basing their disbelief on texts written about the source, instead of the source text. What I mean is: I never found any person that said they stopped believing in Jesus Christ BECAUSE they read the scriptures. Many stopped believing because they read books ABOUT scriptures or persons who preach them or revealed them. Most of them could name definitive works they read -- anti, lukewarm, speculative, rational -- but none of them said, "I read the Bible daily and gained a stronger and stronger witness that it was all hooey."

I can attest to this myself: when I've struggled with my faith, I find I'm also neglecting my scripture study. When I dig into the scriptures, I find that faith renewed and I -- to use President Kimball's most important word -- remember my faith and the experiences I've had. When I don't, it's easy to focus in on the imperfections of members or what they say or do instead of focusing on God and Jesus Christ and those core truths that make the gospel beautiful and bring me peace.

Perhaps this seems radical, but I never worry too much about people who don't believe as I do, as long as they believe in something. By that I mean I don't worry too much about the souls of anyone of any faith who is trying their best to do right by other people and nature. I get the feeling that some believe those who don't choose Mormonism and Celestial Life will be unhappy in the hereafter. I don't think so -- else why is it called "glory"?

It is Mormon belief that after the Second Coming that the earth and its people will be an a Terrestrial state. A terrestrial person, according to D&C 76:71-19, is honorable but blinded by the craftiness of men, receives the presence of Jesus Christ, but not the fulness of the Father, and is not valiant in the testimony of Jesus. This means that even with Christ present among the people, some will choose not to be valiant. I believe these "unvaliant" will be happy or at least satisfied with the choices they make, too -- else, again, why is it called "glory"? Wouldn't it be difficult to be truly unhappy with the Savior near you?

I believe God wants us all to be happy and to reach the peak of our own progression -- wherever we choose to set that peak. I think we choose our degree of glory by our willingness to learn or sacrifice or act in accordance with His laws. I think the place where you are willing to be satisfied will be heaven to you, whether its celestial or not. For each person, that's her degree of glory, IMO.

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I nearly called this Girl, Interrupted 2. DD is home today with a cough and fever. She has had a rough week, poor thing, what with her toe injury on Wednesday and now this.

I only got to go the gym once this week. I've been lifting my measly 10 lb weights here at home to feel like I've at least done something. Yesterday I actually got to the gym. I called my mom back (she had called earlier while I was out to lunch with a friend who needed to talk). My mom is usually pretty brief on the phone, but every now and again she'll want to talk. And talk. And talk. This happened to be one of those times. So, I changed out of my clothes into my gym wear while holding the phone to my ear (yes, it was as awkward as it sounds). Then I went out to the gym floor determined to try to do some real deadlifts. Sat there by the equipment for like 40 minutes listening. Finally gave up and went back to the locker room to change OUT of my clothes while still trying to keep the phone by my ear. Drove home. Kids got off the bus. Started driving them to piano lessons. She finally decided she was done when I offered to let her talk to the kids while I drove. The kids and I ended up lifting together while we watched TV. DS is about the same strength as I am. DD works out with the 2 lb weights and grunts like she's moving 100 lbs. 🙂

Jared was offered $400 and a hotel room to take the red-eye to Alabama yesterday, so he jumped on it. He called this morning about 11 to say he had arrived. He must be exhausted. I'll be glad when he gets home.

I decided not to expose the babysitter to DD's illness, and so I'm missing the ward temple trip. 🙁 We have the best ward temple trips! Last weekend we got to go with our friends' son to take out his endowments before his mission. DS worships him and was really sad he wasn't old enough to go himself.

Yesterday I did get some work done on Jenny Smith .net. I fixed a couple of problems with views and the theme that was bugging me. Someone emailed me to complain which is probably the impetus that got me going again. I will spend the evening watching a movie with the kids and laying out a new front page for JS.net. I want it to be AWESOME!

I think I can devote one day a week to each of the site sets. 1 for JS.net, 1 for MS.com, and 1 for the stores. That would help me stay focused I think. Now if only Jared would finish the product import on the stores......

Post Date: March 26, 2010
Scripture Reference:
Author: Jenny Smith

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jenny Smith
Jenny Smith is a designer who started blogging in 2004 to share lesson and activity ideas with members of her home branch Mississippi. Her collection has grown, and she now single-handedly manages the world's largest collection of free lesson help for LDS teachers with faceted search. Her library includes teaching techniques, object lessons, mini lessons, handouts, visual aids, and doctrinal mastery games categorized by scripture reference and gospel topic. Jenny loves tomatoes, Star Trek, and her family -- not necessarily in that order.
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Jenny Smith is a designer, blogger, and tomato enthusiast who lives in Virginia on a 350+ acre farm with her husband and one very grouchy cat.
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