Wednesday, May 7, 2014
My Mormon Exit Story
Last March while I was waiting in line to see the movie, "God's Not Dead" my husband and I started talking to the couple in front of us. My husband asked the man if he knew what the movie was about and the man said--Jack Mormons? It turns out that this man and his wife were Mormons, but the wife had really left Mormon Church already. The man was still thinking about leaving. I gave them my card and told them about some websites (Sandra Tanner's website www.utlm.org . I told them about Sandra Tanner and Lynn Wilder. Both ex-Mormons now born-again Christians. Lynn Wilder's book "Unveiling Grace" is about her journey out of the Mormon Church. She was a professor at BYU and it is a fascinating story. Lately, I have had people ask me about my Mormon background so I decided to post my Mormon exit story. The long version. I have been praying for this couple I met in line at the movie theater. I hope they are doing well. Here is my story:
From the time I was a small child I have always loved God. I was raised in a Christian home and attended a local *Presbyterian Church during my childhood and as a young adult. It was there that I became a born again Christian. I was around the age of 16 and was in the church high school group. One Sunday morning the youth pastor asked us if we wanted Jesus to forgive our sins and be our Lord and Savior and I really did so I asked the Lord quietly into my heart then. I understood the Gospel and that I was a sinner and needed Jesus to save me. I was passionate for Jesus and His saving grace. That is when Satan went after me and challenged my faith in following God's will. Now begins the battle.
The following summer I went to church camp and while there started to read the Bible regularly. I read through the entire New Testament, underlining verses. While at church camp the guest pastor spoke about Christ centered marriage. He said that if God wanted you to marry you would--if not there was nothing you could do about it. This upset me terribly because I had always wanted to get married and have a family. I was frustrated with the "if it's God's will it will happen." As a young teenager I really didn't understand what that meant. Unfortunately, what that pastor said started me on a one sided fight with the Lord. I was going to make absolutely, positively sure I would get married when I grew up.
Fast forward to my last year in college (1978). I met a guy who was Mormon. When he found out I didn't smoke, drink or do drugs he asked if I was a Mormon. I said no. We became friends and he gave me a Book of Mormon to read. Then the Mormon missionaries came to my home and showed me their lessons about their church. When I heard the Mormon missionaries say things like, Father, Son and Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost, I can't remember which term they used) I was thinking of the Trinity--ONE GOD. I did not realize that the Mormon missionaries were talking about 3 separate gods--one only in thought and purpose. What the Mormon missionaries said sounded "Christian" and being a young Christian and wanting to take things into my own hands and marry a good Christian guy the Mormon Church was just the thing for me. I had a wonderful time at those Mormon dances and went out on lots of dates with some nice guys. I was baptized into the Mormon Church in June of 1978. I caught a bad cold the day I was baptized a Mormon.
Soon after I was baptized I met a Mormon guy (Mike) at a special dance. He was going to UOP to become a dentist. We dated from August to December and got engaged on Christmas Eve 1978. My mother and I were busy planning the wedding. I remember I used to pray to the Lord that my marriage would take place and that we would have a nice life. I remember being in my room alone and talking out loud to the Lord about this when I heard His still small voice. The Lord said to me, "No, Karen, I'm sorry, but no." I asked again and heard Him say the same thing. I remember getting mad at the Lord and said to Him, "What is the matter with You!? Why do you keep saying no?" I am so grateful that the Lord was loving and patient and never let go of me. He was saying He was sorry to me when I should have been down on my knees saying I am sorry to Him. I truly did not know at the time that the Mormon Church was not a Christian Church.
My fiance, Mike had gone to Utah for Easter break to see his family (1979) and while he was there we had a little agrument over the phone about polygamy. I had asked him if I died first would he re-marry and be sealed to someone else in the Mormon temple. He said if they had never been sealed before he would. This did not sit well with me (I think this was the first crack in my Mormon "testimony").
When Mike came back to California after spring break he gave me a birthday gift from his parents. It was my temple clothes that I would wear on my wedding day. When I opened the box the first thing I saw was this green apron. It was a matte satin green with stitching that looked like leaves. I thought the way the stitching swirled around looked crazy--like the brush strokes of a Vincent Van Gogh painting. If you don't know Vincent Van Gogh suffered from mental illness. I didn't say anything about my thoughts to my fiance. We went back to our Mormon ward for church. Meanwhile, my parents came home and saw the birthday present on the coffee table. When my mother opened the box and saw those temple clothes the Holy Spirit convicted her and she knew right away that the Mormon Chruch was not Christian.
Later that evening after Mike left to go back to his apartment, my mother and I were doing the dishes. She has such a funny look on her face I had to ask what was on her mind. At first she said that my fiance was a good man and that she didn't want to interfere. Well, I don't know about you, but when your mother says something like that you just have to know what she means by not wanting to interfere. Finally, she said, "Karen, Christ didn't just come for the "perfect people" He came for everyone. That Mormon Church is not a Christian church because only the "perfect people" can go into their temples. Your father and I can't go into the temple to see your wedding." When my mother said that Christ didn't just come for the perfect people He came for everyone the Lord removed the blanket from my eyes and all these Bible verses that I had read when I was 16 came flooding into my mind. "Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment." Matthew 22:37-38. "On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." Mark 2:17. "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one." John 10:27-30. It was really pretty amazing. I remember my heart started to sink as I started to process this. I said to my mother, "You're right! What should I do? Can I still marry Mike? If I marry Mike will I be denying God?" I couldn't deny the God of the Bible. If I were to marry Mike and we had children and they were raised Mormon would I be condemning them to hell? I couldn't knowingly raise my children as Mormons. All this happened on a Saturday night--the next day was Easter Sunday.
I went to my Mormon ward on Easter Sunday because I had to teach 3 year old children Sunday school. Mormons don't wear crosses and the cross is not displayed in the ward--ever. When I walked into the ward the fact that there was no cross stuck out like a sore thumb. I listened to the different members of the ward give their Easter speech and they only spoke about the exaltation of man to godhood. What the heck was that? What godhood? I went into my Sunday school class of 3 year olds and was so upset I couldn't teach. I just asked them who they thought Jesus is.
After church I went home and so the conflict became bigger. A few days later while I was at work, I called my mother, who volunteered at the local *Presbyterian Church office. I asked her to ask the pastor there if it is ok if I married Mike. When she called me back and told me that the pastor said the Mormons are not Christians I really just broke down and my boss had to have my mom pick me up and take me home. When I got home I wept really hard. I asked my mom to call the youth pastor and ask him about this. She got him on the phone and I spoke to him. He was really nice and told me that what I needed to do was to go into my room by myself and pray to the Lord. Ask the Lord to direct me. The youth pastor also said that the Lord has someone for me to marry and that also my salvation was assured. He said that I was on the edge of a cliff ready to fall off and that I needed to pray and the Lord would save me from falling off that cliff. The youth pastor said that if I did marry the Mormon and if I would raise my children in the Mormon Church they would not be saved.
I went into my room and prayed and for the first time since this started I had peace. I knew I had to make a choice--choose the Jesus of the Bible or choose Mike. I chose Jesus. "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." Matthew 6:24. I knew I had to break it off with Mike and leave the Mormon Church. I called Mike and asked him to come over. I told him I had lost my testimony. I did not believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I told him I thought the Mormon prophets were actually adulterers. Mike got angry with me for saying that one. I also said to Mike that he would not be a god nor would I for there is only one God and we are not Him. Mike asked me why I did not want to be a god? I said because it just is not the way it is--God is God and we are not--never will be. I want to love and worship God, not be Him. Mike said he thought I needed help and he wanted to help me. I didn't need Mike's help so we broke up and I gave him back his diamond ring, temple clothes and fishing rods. We said our goodbyes and never spoke to each other again.
I then had to tell my bishop. He could hardly believe it. Someone came and picked up my Sunday school lesson books. Then so many people started calling me and showed up on my doorstep. Answering machines were not the norm back in 1979. This was really upsetting and harassing. This eventually stopped when I told them I would get a lawyer and to please leave me alone. My mother was praying for me and prayed that the Lord would bring a nice born again Christian man into my life. The youth pastor at the *Presbyterian Church asked a young woman who was the wife of an intern at the *Presbyterian Church to befriend me and help me get back into Christain fellowship. She was very sweet and I appreciated this very much. I re-joined the Presbyterian Church.
In June of 1979 I was invited to a going away pool party BBQ for this couple because her husband was going to seminary school. I was sitting on a porch swing at this party when this cute guy came up to me, sat on the arm of the porch swing and said, "Hi." Scott is a born again Christian. We started dating soon after and got married the following summer, July 1980. We will be married for 34 years this July. We also got baptized in a Christian church. It was wonderful to be baptized as a believer in Christ in a real Christian church. It just washed away that awful Mormon baptism that happened 35 years ago. I am so very thankful and humbled to the Lord for all His loving forgiveness and for never letting go of me even though I went off so wrong. Through all this I learned that the Lord really does know best and it is better to wait on Him than make a mess of things like I did. It is so easy for people to be deceived and it is so important to stand by the Bible alone. The Mormons use many of the same words as born again Christians, but they have very different meanings behind those words. If you are reading this and are a Mormon I would suggest that you to say a prayer and ask the Lord to show you the truth. He will show you the truth. The Lord taught me a lot through my Mormon experience. How Satan can really appear as an angel of light, yet he is the prince of darkness. It is important to gage everything according to the Bible and to spend time with the Lord in prayer. If it conflicts with the Bible then forget it. You cannot trust your feelings. Feelings can deceive you. The Lord Jesus is with you always. When you have faith and believe in Him and His sacrifice for you on the cross He will never leave you or let you go. I give all the glory to the God of the Bible for getting me out of the darkness of Mormonism.
"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel--not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the Gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed." Galations 1:6-9
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20
Let's pray: Dear Lord Jesus, I lift up those who are still in the Mormon Church. I pray that their eyes would be opened to the truth found in the Jesus of the Bible. I pray that those in darkness will ask You, Lord to show them the truth. I pray that Your gift of salvation through Jesus, by grace will be received. I say these things in Jesus' name. Amen.
*NOTE: The Presbyterian Church was a very different church back in 1979. I am no longer a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA) or PCUSA. I have not been a member for many years. I do not endorse nor would I recommend joining the Presbyterian Church (USA) or PCUSA. Please seek out a church that stands with the Bible alone.