50 Reasons People Give for Believing in God
Judging by Fruits

Apostasy Been Berra Berra Good to Me

The LDS church teaches that people like me, i.e., former members of the church, are destined to be miserable, and that we are in the clutches of Satan.  We are as Judas--traitors who would kill Christ if we could.  This sounds harsh, and indeed it is.  It sounds like one of those old 19th-century teachings (like blood atonement) that the church has swept under the rug.  But, alas, this is one of the old teachings that is still alive and kicking in the modern church.  In the current manual Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, published at the direction of the First Presidency (and the only extra-scriptural material permitted to be used by Priesthood and Relief Society teachers in the church) is found lesson number 27, titled "Beware the Bitter Fruits of Apostasy." From that lesson comes this quote, which is representative of the tenor and thrust of the entire lesson:

[A]postates after turning from the faith of Christ, unless they have speedily repented, have sooner or later fallen into the snares of the wicked one, and have been left destitute of the Spirit of God, to manifest their wickedness in the eyes of multitudes. From apostates the faithful have received the severest persecutions. Judas was rebuked and immediately betrayed his Lord into the hands of His enemies, because Satan entered into him.

There is a superior intelligence bestowed upon such as obey the Gospel with full purpose of heart, which, if sinned against, the apostate is left naked and destitute of the Spirit of God, and he is, in truth, nigh unto cursing, and his end is to be burned. When once that light which was in them is taken from them they become as much darkened as they were previously enlightened, and then, no marvel, if all their power should be enlisted against the truth, and they, Judas-like, seek the destruction of those who were their greatest benefactors. . . .

. . .

When you joined this Church you enlisted to serve God. When you did that you left the neutral ground, and you never can get back on to it. Should you forsake the Master you enlisted to serve, it will be by the instigation of the evil one, and you will follow his dictation and be his servant.

I believe that one reason why active Mormons often choose not to associate at all with former members of the church is that they actually believe that former members are possessed by Satan, as the above quote from Joseph Smith unequivocally states.

Given that they are taught this by their church leaders, whom they revere as prophets, seers, and revelators, it is perhaps not surprising.  A second reason active member of the LDS church avoid contact with former members is that associating with folks like me would put the lie to the doctrine.  For I am demonstrably not "darkened" or manifesting "wickedness" or experiencing misery and anguish.  To the contrary, I have never been happier, never felt more peace, never been more free, never felt more alive.  And I know many ex-Mormons who feel similarly.  The world didn't end for us when we left the church; we didn't turn into hobos and vagrants and vagabonds.  The grim picture painted by church leaders of the woeful apostate is as distorted as the rosy picture the church paints of the idealized Joseph Smith.  If members of the church associate too much with former members, they will begin to see that their church leaders are, for lack of a more accurate word, lying to them about the "danger" of disagreeing with church leaders about anything and everything.  And if their leaders are not truthful about that, members may begin to question some of the other things their leaders have told them to "take on faith" because once the prophet has spoken, the "thinking has been done."

I consider myself Exhibit A in the case against the LDS church's doctrine that apostates are bitter, miserable, unhappy creatures destined to "burn their fingers and go to hell."  Here is my personal testament, nearly one year after resigning my church membership, to how apostasy has been "berra berra good to me."

One of the best things to come out of my leaving Mormonism was the profound relief that I was finally free to be me, to embrace what I truly value and who I really am.  I recaptured my identity as I broke free from the shackles the religion had fastened so tightly to my soul.  Changing my world-view was at times disorienting, and I felt some sense of loss and even sadness upon recognizing that the church and god to which I had given my heart and mind for nearly twenty years was not what it claimed to be nor what I thought it was.  But at the same time, I was liberated from church-imposed self-doubt, guilt, fear, and shame—freed from the cognitive dissonance that was my constant companion as I became increasingly frustrated trying to reconcile my knowledge about the way the world really is with church dogma. 

Coming to grips with the realization that the Mormon church was not, in fact, the “only true and living church on the face of the whole earth,” as it claims, and that it was not, in fact, led by a true prophet who receives wisdom and guidance and instruction directly from a resurrected Jesus Christ, was a difficult process.  It was emotionally, mentally, and even physically draining.  And for whatever reason, my spouse was unable to help me through that time.  Initially, she added to my pain and confusion, reacting angrily when I tried to tell her about my doubts about the church, accusing me of destroying our family.  She made it clear that there were limits to what she was willing to hear from me on religion.  After that initial negative reaction, I felt like she had closed the avenues of communication on the subject.  She eventually softened, to a degree, but I never felt safe confiding in her my deepest thoughts, concerns, questions, feelings.  We continued on in our relationship: cordial, amicable, but never again truly intimate emotionally.  We got along fairly well, I suppose, but on the surface only.

I needed support, and I found it, through the development of deep friendships with fellow travelers on a spiritual journey out of Mormonism.  I found online a community of caring, thoughtful men and women with shared experiences who could relate to me without judgment or condemnation or disappointment.  They provided intellectually stimulating conversation on topics of great interest and importance to me.  And they provided emotional support, without which my leaving the church would have been a painful, lonesome experience.  Instead, I can say “apostasy been berra berra good to me” because of the rich, abiding friendships I have gained.  Through almost two decades of active involvement in the LDS church, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of lasting friendships I enjoy with true-believing Latter-day Saints.  Mormons often are friendly on the outside but can be, with some notable exceptions, iron-hearted within.  Exmormons, I have found, are the opposite: at first blush, they can appear hostile, but inside can have hearts of gold.

While I was forging friendships and re-discovering my core identity, I was also working a lot.  And so was my wife.  She and I only rarely talked about my disaffection from the church, and even then only in a superficial way.  To avoid contention, we simply took the topic off the table.  Mostly we talked about the kids and our schedules and the mundane things of life.  I tried to get her to read my blog or join me in meeting my online friends on those occasions when we would get together “in real life.”  She wouldn’t (or if she did read my blog, she would not discuss it with me).  While I was getting support from others in my journey away from the church, she was alone.  She stopped going to church—she felt understandably uncomfortable as the woman with an apostate husband.  Many of her so-called friends shunned her; only a few made more than a token attempt to maintain contact and friendship once she stopped going to church. 

But though on the outside we now appeared to be united in our disaffection from Mormonism, underneath she was resenting me for leaving the church myself and making it too uncomfortable for her to continue activity in the church.  She felt stuck between two worlds, not at home being without an organized religion but unwilling to subject herself to the pain of continuing involvement in the LDS church.  But we didn’t address it, and her resentment and anger toward me festered.  Our interests diverged—I had my work and my online friends; she started working out and became friends with her personal trainer, a young Muslim man.  The number of hours we spent together dwindled, and when we were together, we either fought over substantive issues or ignored them, focusing instead on laundry, shopping lists, and coordinating the kids’ extracurricular activities.  She secretly became very interested in Islam; I secretly became very interested in one of my online friends (who has a blog called Thoughts by Sister Mary Lisa) in another state.

Lisa and I had become fast friends when she first entered the DAMU (Disaffected Mormon Underground, the loose confederation of blogs, discussion boards, and web sites populated by Mormon doubters, heretics, and apostates) sometime in 2006.  I had started this blog that year and was on a quest to find as many disaffected/exmormon blogs as I could to add to my blogroll.  I wanted people to be able to come to Equality Time and link to every good non-evangelical web site or blog critical of Mormonism.  In gathering this list, I stumbled on her blog, and was impressed by both its content and her writing style.  I left comments telling her so.  And she would visit my blog and do the same.  We seemed to have a similar take on a lot of things.  She began posting at FLAK (Further Light and Knowledge), the discussion board where I’d hang out with so many of my fellow disaffected Mormon friends.  Sometimes she and I would email each other.  I admired her intellect, her humor, and her compassion.  And, I would find out later, she admired me as well.  For many months, we were “just friends” with no thoughts of being anything more.  She was going through a divorce; I was beginning to question the long-term viability of my own marriage.  She left her husband in early 2008; I found my own place to live in August.  My wife had converted to Islam, and I had been away for six weeks working on a big civil trial.  When I came home in mid-June, we decided to go our separate ways, believing we each would be happier living apart than together, and that our children would fare better with two happy parents living singly than two miserable parents living together. 

After Lisa moved out and filed for divorce, we began communicating more often.  Over the course of 2008, I fell head over heels in love with her, and she with me.  I discovered in her someone who loves me fully, without reservation or hesitation.  And I feel the same for her.  I discovered someone in whom I could confide my deepest thoughts and feelings.  With her, nothing is off limits, no subject verboten.  I feel totally comfortable with her in a way I have never experienced before.  And she feels the same with me.  I feel no need to “put on airs,” to pretend to be something I am not.  I feel no need to hide my true self.  I can be me and she loves me, the real me, as I am right now; I don’t need to pretend to be “righteous” or self-censor my thoughts and feelings out of fear of her disapproval.  And she knows that I love her for her, the real her, as she is right now.  She doesn’t need to pretend to be anything she’s not or self-censor her thoughts and feelings.  We are able to talk about anything and everything.  The power of the love we feel for each other is stronger than anything either of us has experienced before; the intimacy deeper; the connection tighter.  This is beyond infatuation, beyond a mere crush.  We feel that magical connection given expression by poets and artists throughout time—sappy or corny as it sounds we feel true love.

Lisa and I are now engaged to be married.  Our relationship has its complications.  She lives four states away.  We both have children from our previous marriages.  We are not unmindful of the challenges we face.  But we are very happy and look forward to facing whatever life throws our way together.  If I had never left Mormonism, I never would have found myself.  I never would have found so many good, genuine friends.  And I never would have met my true love.  I’ve never been happier than since falling hopelessly in love with her.  I’ve never felt more comfortable with who I am and what I am doing.  I’ve never felt more loved.  I’ve never felt better about my self or about the world around me.  I don’t second-guess my decision, thoughtfully and carefully and deliberately made, to leave the Mormon church.  I have no regrets; indeed, it is among the best decisions I’ve ever made.  I’ve never been more at peace.  And I’ve never felt more alive than I do right now.

Comments

Nathan Kennard

Equality,

As usual you have hit the nail on the head. LDS Inc. must maintain the unsupportable claims of its founder or flounder on the rocks of irrelevance. The organization seems to be bent on barreling headlong into that abyss. Now, if only I could get my family to invite me to the discussion of the "Beware the Bitter Fruits" lesson.

Nathan

cc

aww.....good for both of you, equality and sml. yes, you're the poster children for "the best revenge is a good life."

CONGRATULATIONS and love will conquer all the small stuff to sort out w/kids, moving, ex-spouses, etc. NOW GO AND CONTINUE TO BE HAPPY!!

p.s. i owe equality a huge THANK YOU for helping me find my way out. john dehlin actually turned me on to this blog and then this blog lead to all my other reading/studies/forums for the past 8 months. no one knows yet, but it will be soon.....

Equality

Thanks, cc. It's nice to get positive feedback. Now, just don't tell Dehlin that he had a hand in you leaving. He's a little sensitive about that these days. :-)

rebecca

AAAHHHH!!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!! SML is AWESOME!!!!

Ok, too many caps and way too many exclamation points. But still.

My mother always says that those who have left the church just think they're happy, but aren't really. Leaving aside those who are truly emotionally repressed, is there really a difference between thinking you're happy and actually being happy? If you think you're happy, if you feel happy, then, um...aren't you happy? I was glad to come to that conclusion long before I left the church - luckily for me I had a longtime friend who left years before I did, and was quite obviously happier because of that decision.

I've also been very, very lucky to have a lot of close Mormon friends who aren't of the super strict, literal variety. I haven't lost a single close friend because I left the church, and their wholehearted acceptance and support keep me from being really bitter towards the church, which is good since ALL of my family is still Mormon (a little bit of bitter slips through, though).

My North Star

I read FLAK from time to time, and have admired you and SML ever since I 'met' you online. It is hard to imagine people better suited for each other than you two are. I am very, very happy for you! May you have very happy lives together!

Matt

See, it goes far beyond words and I'm left with only the sappiest. Somewhere "Equality + SML" must be carved-in. A place where seeking hearts go to find inspiration, hope, and refuge ... and to find each other. But this place where you met, though it is perilously temporary, has been the means to etch your names in the hearts of hundreds if not thousands. Thank you both for finding your way here and sharing with us.

canadiancynic

Congratulations! It's awesome to see the two of you get together. And you're right, apostacy is not all it's cracked up to be (It's better!)

Megan

Congratulations on all of it - your personal happiness and your new emotional joy! What you say is absolutely true, I wasn't really happy until I left the church and discovered confidence in myself and my own integrity. I was also told what Rebecca says above - that people outside of the church aren't really happy they just think they are. What I know is that I felt unhappy in the church and real joy out of it; it's difficult to explain this polar opposite to what I was taught (particularly as it has been a lasting phenomenon) unless, at least for me, it is truth.

I hope you and SML continue to grow and deepen together - and have every confidence that you will do so. After all, this is a relationship based on honesty and true compatibility and not on wishful, hopeful belief without foundation.

Simeon

I'm so happy for you two. I've been reading and admiring both of your blogs and posts for several years now. You both deserve to live life to the fullest now with everything you've both been through.

Congratulations!

SML

I love how we have such awesome friends and supporters. Makes me all mushy and happy.

Katie

You will be a happy edition to my family. Hopefully you will feel that you can be as open and fun with everyone as you were with me.

Steph

I've been ducking in and out of the DAMU far less lately, I had no idea! Congrats to you both. As usual, you hit the nail on the head with this one. If I have been plagued by anything in my post LDS life, it is the unique audacity some members have to paint a picture of my family with their own brush. I resent the slights and outright condemnation from people, purported followers of Christ, who just know the ins and outs of our situatiion based soley on third hand gossip and judgemental assumptions. When a member dressed down my 12 year old son at his grandmother's funeral. I had had enough. Thanks for putting this into words with your usual eloquence.
I hope your lives together are bright, peaceful and blissfully happy.
Steph (jax)

Iron Lung

Congrats on your new relationship! How exciting to have so much in common AND know it at the same time. (as opposed to getting married and realizing 20 years later you have nothing in common LOL).

This is a great post and the first part shares much resemblance to my current situation. You say:

"Changing my world-view was at times disorienting, and I felt some sense of loss and even sadness upon recognizing that the church and god to which I had given my heart and mind for nearly twenty years was not what it claimed to be nor what I thought it was. But at the same time, I was liberated from church-imposed self-doubt, guilt, fear, and shame"

sometimes removal of the church-imposed self-doubt, guilt, fear, etc. is the first step in a multi-step healing / self discovery process. After throwing off mormonism, an invididual may at first experience much instability before eventually discovering that happier place. The TBM onlooker would easily interpret this transition period as unhappy or darkened or possessed by the devil, which is unfortunate.

Lisa

Just found your blog.

It never fails to astound me how much on the same wavelength the bloggernacle is - LDS or not.

I just wrote a vent on next Sunday's RS lesson: "The Bitter Fruits of Apostasy" and it uses many of the quotes you used for this post. It really is unbelievable. I'm on the outer fringes these days, and this kind of BS just fuels my "gotta get out of here" fire.

And yes, congratulations to you both :)

Mafalda

This is a very well put together blog. Many of my feelings as an ex Mormon are reflected in it. So thanks; for expressing the way we feel about leaving Mormonism.

I cannot believe they are going to teach that stuff on Sunday School. What a misconception of who we are! What a self-righteous BS!

Mafalda

How could I forget? CONGRATS! FELICIDADES!

I met you at the exmo conference and you guys are so sweet! I have had no idea of your background until I read the post about the apostasy. (Never visited this blog before, my bad).

Best wishes to you and a hug from Mafalda. =)

Pottermom

Congratulations, Equality! I'm so happy for you that you've found such incredible happiness in your life. Best wishes.

Lori

C. L. Hanson

Wow, congratulations!!!

I don't know how I missed this until today (gotta check my RSS subscriptions...)

I'm really happy for you -- it couldn't have happened to two nicer, cooler folks!!! :D

INTJ Mom

Congrats and best wishes again. For some reason your past 3 posts didn't show up on my RSS feed until today- weird.

I only have a couple of active Mormon friends left at this point (and I live in Utah). It seemed like everyone else was always trying too hard to find things wrong with my life so they could convince me (actually more likely themselves) that my life was really not better as an apostate. It got too annoying and tiresome for me. A few of them actually said we couldn't be associated any longer because it made them question the validity of the church's claims about apostates.

It could be sad, but I was finding those "friendships" rather superficial and unfulfilling anyhow, and I realized I was only maintaining contact with them out of a sense of obligation to show them that apostates can be happy and have good lives. So it actually worked out just fine. There are plenty of ex-Mormons here in Utah to have real friendships with.

There will always be TBMs who refuse to believe that we apostates are really happy and having good lives, just like they refuse to believe that any of the California Mormons were coerced into donating or volunteering to support Prop 8, and so on and so forth. They have to ignore and close their eyes in regards to anything that doesn't jive with what the church says in order to maintain their faith. But there will be a small percentage who will see us doing well and it will make them start to think and question. It is for them that I "keep my hat in the ring", as it were.

aka madre

I agree very much with what you have said. My personal feelings, as I have expressed many times to those closest to me are, "I feel authentic now." I guess you could say for my entire life I felt like a "Stepford" being. Anyway, that aside, I love you for the joy and life you have brought to my daughter. I know my appreciation and respect will grow as the years demonstrate the great love you have for each other. I look forward to the day you become my son-in-law!

aka

Randy

Good God, I didn't know that SML was your betrothed. That's way cool.

My wife maintained her LDS beliefs during her inactive period, and know she's active in church again. Still, she told me not long ago that "the church never really fit you." She thinks I'm much more comfortable with myself, letting my freak flag fly and practicing an experiential form of spirtuality, than I ever was when I was trying to fit into the mould.

TBM

"There is a superior intelligence bestowed upon such as obey the Gospel with full purpose of heart, which, if sinned against, the apostate is left naked and destitute of the Spirit of God, and he is, in truth, nigh unto cursing, and his end is to be burned. When once that light which was in them is taken from them they become as much darkened as they were previously enlightened, and then, no marvel, if all their power should be enlisted against the truth, and they, Judas-like, seek the destruction of those who were their greatest benefactors. . . .

. . .

When you joined this Church you enlisted to serve God. When you did that you left the neutral ground, and you never can get back on to it. Should you forsake the Master you enlisted to serve"


This is truth. Yet you are to blind to see. The scales are upon your eyes, never to be lifted till you are thrust to hell on the last day. Repent, and see.

TBM

So let me get this straight: Leave the Church, destroy your children by you and your wife falling for others and committing adultery.. and this makes you "Berry Berry Happy".. Wow. That is sick logic.

Equality

TBM (which, not all of my readers may know, stands for "true believing Mormon" or "true blue Mormon"):

Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog. I appreciate it. I think, however, that your reading comprehension skills are lacking. Where in my post did I say anything about "[me] and [my] wife . . . committing adultery."? I didn't, of course. You managed to infer something I did not imply, and something I most certainly did not state. Read it again--this time carefully. I also said nothing about "destroy[ing my] children." My children are coping well and are thriving now that both their parents are happy. Thanks for your feigned concern.

Is it the perfect situation? No. I never said it was. Are children raised outside of Mormonism, or outside a 50s-style nuclear family, destined for destruction? I suppose some narrow-minded religious zealots might think so. Perhaps you count yourself among them. I am happy to be free from that mindset. And that's the substance of my argument that neither you nor any other "true believer" is able to address. That I (and many others who have left Mormonism) can be happier than I have ever been, as I emphatically reject the superstitions and fables on which your religion rests, is concrete evidence that the parade of horribles your so-called prophets claim will come upon those who leave the church are but figments of their fevered imaginations.

Happy Exmormons like me and my fiancee (and hundreds of others whom I have come to know personally over the last few years) are living testaments to the falsity of the teachings espoused by your prophets and your church.

Equality

TBM said:
"This is truth. Yet you are to blind to see. The scales are upon your eyes, never to be lifted till you are thrust to hell on the last day. Repent, and see."

Gee, um, thanks? I think you have your Mormon theology (or, perhaps, soteriology would be more accurate) a little mixed up. I believe that according to Mormon doctrine I will actually be thrust down to hell upon my death, to which fate I will be consigned until the very end of the Millennium or, in other words, 1000 years after Jesus finally decides to end his celestial siesta and come back to earth from that planet near Kolob where he's been kicking back for the last 2000 years or so. Then, after finally being resurrected, I will be assigned either to the lowly telestial kingdom or, even worse, to the dreaded Outer Darkness, where Satan and his minions dwell in perpetual darkness and overall yuckiness. It's an open question as to whether someone such as I would end up in Outer Darkness. Reading what Joseph Smith had to say in the quotes from the lesson that I have posted here, my prospects don't look too good. Maybe you could weigh in on this very important (but fine) doctrinal point.

cc

blech! there's so many things wrong w/tbm's "Christian" call to repentance statement. but i won't waste my time or energy arguing those points with you.

i personally joined the church because i believed it was true. when i found out all the lies, the truth that still to this day resides in me REBELLED!

may God reward my life of honesty by placing me for eternity w/the likes of authentic people like equality and sml. my idea of hell (yea even outer darkeness) IS that mormon celestial kingdom full of arrogant and judgmental tbm's and relegating me to that eternal damnation of polygamy and eternal childbearing.

one man's hell is another man's heaven.

cc

oops! didn't catch typo before i posted but i do know how to spell darkness.

metamorf

Congratulations Equality and SML!!
You are both so fortunate to have found someone with whom to share your love - unconditionally!
Thank you Equality, for sharing some of your personal experiences of the past year.

I find it rather ironic that some who profess, so loudly, to be Christ's true followers are so intolerant of the beliefs and rights of others. I seem to remember Jesus' teachings to be those of tolerance and love. But...why I should be surprised? I do, however, consider myself fortunate to be treated with so much respect by many of my family & friends.

mark

Congrats to both of you. You both deserve happiness and I glad you have found one another. I am a faithful reader of the SML blog. SML is truly an incredible person. Not only is she a multi-talented person, she is one of the most sincere people that I have ever "met" in cyberville. She has beauty, brains,talent, and a very loving heart. I wish you both endless joy, contentment, and happiness.

Esilenna

I have read your blog and the comments afterwards. I have one question. What exactly did you find so wrong about what the church teaches? My father left the church to follow his homosexual desires, yet he never felt happier in that chosen life. He passed away 5 years ago and as a LDS mother of 2, I have been trying to figure it all out. I don't have any particular problems with the principles of raising a loving family that the church teaches nor its emphasize on service, however there have definitely been moments when I have seen members of the church act horribly. I've always told myself that the Christ's gospel is true, but people are imperfect. Have any of you joined other religions? If so, why and are they Christian based? I guess that was more than 1 question.

Sister Mary Lisa

Esilenna,

It's sometimes hard to appear happy when everyone you love is judging you harshly and believing about you that you are weak and immoral and following Satan willingly. Does that make sense? Possibly your father was unhappy to be constantly judged by his family.

Also, it's natural for life to have ups and downs. This is human. The church's teachings that "wickedness never was happiness" causes believers to watch their loved ones who choose a different path and they often consider every single down moment a validation that indeed, unhappiness is prevalent in the lives of their family members who left the fold. I have seen this many times in the lives of my friends and family who left the church. And when good things happen, the believing family members either don't acknowledge it or can't, because it puts the lie into stark relief and is impossible to accept and also continue to believe the lie that people who leave the church find only misery and despair.

Do you believe non-Mormons have no "principles of a loving family"?

Pants

I am so very happy for you and SML!

I'm also glad that something so positive has come from your escape from Mormonism. When I left the church (almost 14 years ago - yikes!) there weren't the sort of online support groups where you and SML met. I am very impressed with the level of support we are able to find online...as I was when I met everyone in October when SML came out for a visit.

Again, congratulations you two!!! :)

Sideon

Congratulations, you two beautiful people!

The Lyoness

As you know, I'm really, really new to FLAK, so I'm not even sure who Lisa is. ::blush:: But I am really happy for you, that you were able to find somebody who is perfect for you. Congratulations and good luck!!!

~Lyoness

The Lyoness

PS I'm much happier now that I have left the Church too - perhaps if we're both hanging out in Outer Darkness, we can throw a party and liven things up a bit? :-D

Sister Mary Lisa

I just re-read this post and it makes me happy all over again! I'm still as in love with you as ever, and want to say that life is very good by your side. Thanks for being you.

PS ~ I'm looking forward to your thoughts on 8: The Mormon Proposition movie when you get time to post about it. <3

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