Saturday, March 2, 2013

I always questioned Mormonism...

I was born in Utah and raised Mormon (LDS).  I am no longer part of the church and am an exmormon.  I actively participate in postmormon groups, such as the postmos.

My story begins at the beginning of my first year in Sunday school, when I was about 5 or 6.  I remember it clearly.  The Sunday school president asked people to write down their testimonies of god, Jesus, and the Book of Mormon.  We would save it and reopen it in a year.  I couldn't write down anything, because I realized I didn't know whether any of it was true.  I remember thinking about whether there was a God.  I told my teacher that I couldn't write and I didn't know whether there was a god.  So instead, we came up with, "I love my family.  I love my mom and dad.  In the name of Jesus, Amen."  We never did open it a year later.  Maybe I was sick or the Sunday school president changed.

There are little moments in most of our lives that seem to change the direction of the rest of our lives.  That was the first time I thought about God.  It was a few weeks later that I decided to actually listen in Sacrament meeting instead of my usual nap or drawing.  I think my mom no longer let me sleep up against her, so that also forced me to stay awake.  Man, church was boring even then and I couldn't stay awake the entire time.  There was one talk that caught my ear.  One lady's testimony was about feeling the spirit, and how she felt some warmth or something like that when she prayed about something.  I don't remember exactly what she said, but I thought to myself, "Is she crazy?  Is she deluded?  Is it god?  Is it the devil?  Is it just in her head?"  I thought about that question many times during my life as a mormon.  I don't think about it anymore since I'm no longer mormon.  ;)

When I was 8, I thought to myself, "Now that I'm going to be baptized, I'll finally learn whether the church is true."  I paid attention to my feelings.  It's not like I had any sin -- I was 8.  There's nothing that an 8 year old can really do to be "unworthy".  I had no reason to feel guilty about anything that I had ever done.  There was no reason for me to not feel the spirit.  I was baptized.  Sure, I felt good but I was around people.  There was no special feeling.  I was given the gift of the holy ghost by laying on of hands, as a Mormon would say.  I felt nothing different after.  If anything, I felt more different after baptism than being given the holy ghost.  A large part of that was because I had just been completely immersed in water.  I felt nothing different for the next week.  If anything, this was the experiment of all experiments.  I should have just been given the gift of the holy ghost and baptized -- two supposedly life-altering experiences where I could have many experiences with god.  I believed I would feel something, if it existed.  I felt nothing.  In my head, I could never repeat that experiment unless I left the church.  That experiment failed to give me any spiritual experience.

I also paid attention to my emotions and feelings when I was ordained for my mission.  And when I was unordained when I came home from my mission.  I paid attention when I resigned from the church.  There were no moments where I felt anything different from what I felt before.  I didn't feel more miserable, nor happier.  Granted, if anything, leaving the church has made me much happier than before, but a large part of that is because I've been able to make long-lasting friends who I can talk to about most anything.  A large part of my happiness now has been able to make an emotional and intellectual connection to other exmormons.

If I had been in any other place in Utah, that's where my mormon story would have ended.  Sure, everyone has a mormon story these days.  But I wouldn't have been mormon.  I stuck with it because of intellectual curiosity -- what if they really had the truth, but I was just too young, had to give it time, or do more?  What if god was just testing me?  What if there was more behind it?  It didn't consume my thoughts then, but I thought about it every Sunday.  Well, most Sundays.  I figured I'd give it a few years.  Afterall, what else was I supposed to do?  I was freakin' 10.  I thought to myself, "I don't want to drink, smoke, or swear, so I might as well be Mormon."

I noticed in my mind even then, the Mormon dichotomy -- the LDS church was either true or no Christian church was true.  It just made sense that Jesus, if real and the Savior of all mankind, would visit all cultures when resurrected.  The resurrection was the pinnacle of mankind, the penultimate purpose, the other-large-mormony-word of all existence.  It was the moment.  Jesus would visit the USA and its native american inhabitants, because Salvation is that important.  Besides, the Book of Mormon thoroughly destroyed other religious arguments, like giving thorough reasons for baptism by immersion, life after death, and on and on.  The mormons solved a lot of problems in Christianity.  That is, if Christ even existed and was the savior of humanity, which I wasn't even sure was the case.  That all seemed far-fetched.  I figured, if I was going to believe one far-fetched story, I might as well believe another far-fetched story that makes it a more complete, sensible story.  If Christianity was true, Mormonism had to be as well.  There was no other way in my thought-process.  So, my point was to figure out how far-fetched of a story that I would believe.

I'll finish up my life story later, since lives are long and complicated.  My teen years eventually led me to believe in Mormonism, but that's another story.  I never really understood why my thought process was so different from so many other people, while so young.  It really doesn't matter.  I would ask my missionary companions why they believed, and they almost always said that they always had.  That blew me away.  I had always questioned.

I try to wonder what my life had been if I was never LDS, but I can't even imagine it.  That's kind of a pointless pursuit, because it would have been so dramatically different that there's nothing to compare to.  I don't know if I would have been happier never having been mormon, or if I'm happier now once mormon and having left.  I don't know if I would have ended up religious, spiritual, agnostic, or atheist.  I don't know if I would have had the same confidence I have now, the same exuberance for life, the same friendships, the same level of enjoyment and pleasure if I had never been mormon and left.  All I can say, is that I'm young enough to be glad that I'm out of it at this point. 

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