It’s Christ­mas­time 2015. I’m 61 years old, a lov­ing hus­band, father of four, grand­fa­ther of nine and — eight months into the Post-Mor­mon por­tion of my life. The past two years of tran­si­tion have been painful, ter­ri­fy­ing, embar­rass­ing, dis­ori­ent­ing but ulti­mate­ly lib­er­at­ing.

I am an active, faith­ful, life­time mem­ber of the L.D.S. Church. I was mar­ried in the tem­ple in the 1970s and have attend­ed reg­u­lar­ly for 40 years. I’ve held a vari­ety of call­ings includ­ing Bish­oprics, Stake call­ings, quo­rum lead­er­ship, YM lead­er­ship and many adult and youth teach­ing call­ings. I raised my four chil­dren in the Church and three of them served mis­sions. Off the top of my head, I cal­cu­late I’ve con­tributed in the neigh­bor­hood of $300,000 to the church in tithing and oth­er dona­tions. My mar­riage, my fam­i­ly, my friends, indeed, my world have been enclosed in a bub­ble that is the Mor­mon Church.

I’ve had a charmed adult life: hap­py mar­riage, lov­ing fam­i­ly, sat­is­fy­ing work and finan­cial pros­per­i­ty but there was always some­thing wrong.

For over 20 years, I expe­ri­enced mild, clin­i­cal depres­sion that has been treat­ed par­tial­ly with Prozac. The symp­toms seem to ebb and flow and peri­od­i­cal­ly the depres­sion becomes severe. It became fairy pro­nounced in 2014–15.

Grad­u­al­ly, I con­clud­ed that a large part of my men­tal dis­tress results from a lack of self-worth I feel because God appar­ent­ly chose not to tes­ti­fy to me regard­ing (among oth­er issues) the his­toric­i­ty of the Book of Mor­mon, the Joseph Smith sto­ry and even the premise that the LDS Church is “the one true church”.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, for 60 years, God seem­ing­ly cursed me (for lack of a bet­ter term) not to KNOW the truth of the gospel but to sim­ply BELIEVE on the words of oth­ers (DC 46).

So, I always had soul-crush­ing ques­tions:

  • Why do I NOT get the same spir­i­tu­al affir­ma­tions (tes­ti­mo­ny) as oth­ers claim to receive?
  • Why have I nev­er had pos­i­tive results from Moroni’s Book of Mor­mon chal­lenge?
  • If the gospel is sup­posed to be SIMPLE, why am I so CONFUSED by most aspects of Church doc­trine?
  • As I prayer­ful­ly study and search for truth why do the ANSWERS ALMOST ALWAYS PRODUCE MORE DOUBT?
  • Why doesn’t fol­low­ing the Church’s coun­sel to “READ THE B.O.M. AND PRAY HARDER” cure any of those doubts?

Over the years, I have devel­oped scores of spe­cif­ic, trou­bling ques­tions about my church.

Typ­i­cal­ly, I would pray more and study hard­er when I came across some­thing con­fus­ing or trou­bling about the church. Most of the time, that addi­tion­al research did not answer the ques­tion in a faith pro­mot­ing man­ner. Invari­ably, I would have to put the issue on my “to-be-answered-sat­is­fac­to­ri­ly-lat­er” shelf.

At age 60, I found myself com­fort­ably retired with time to research the depres­sion-induc­ing book shelves of trou­bling ques­tions. I had scores of them:

  • Church lead­ers open­ly inferred that I was wast­ing my time think­ing about those issues because the think­ing had already been done for me.
  • Over the years, I stud­ied pri­mar­i­ly faith­ful LDS sources and not only did I not find sat­is­fac­to­ry answers, I devel­oped MORE ques­tions.
  • For decades, I read the can­on­ized, writ­ten works of the church over and over and they were a mass of con­fu­sion to me… So I put them on the shelf.
  • I fol­lowed the Mark Hoff­man forg­eries episode close­ly and I came away per­plexed that the one-and-only-liv­ing-prophet of the one-true-church could be so deceived by a con man… I put that on the shelf.
  • Ten years ago, I read Bushman’s biog­ra­phy of Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling, and I was stunned… I was in a Bish­opric at that time and I put that on the shelf.
  • Over the years, I have read sig­nif­i­cant por­tions of the Jour­nal of Dis­cours­es and I have been demor­al­ized… and put it on the shelf.
  • I read BH Roberts’s Stud­ies of the Book of Mor­mon and I felt betrayed by nev­er hear­ing that stuff in church… and put it on the shelf.
  • I read sec­tions of the Joseph Smith Papers project and I have come to under­stand that what I have been taught by the church (in many areas) is at best: evolv­ing, at worst: untrue or dis­tort­ed… I put it on the shelf.
  • I ago­nized over the racism of with­hold­ing the priest­hood and tem­ple ordi­nances from blacks.
  • I became per­plexed over the deceit and the white­wash­ing of polygamy at the high­est lev­els of the Church.
  • I rolled my eyes and felt pain in my stom­ach in the tem­ple where I have been taught that women are sim­ply a help-meat to men who receive sal­va­tion only through their hus­bands… but I put it on the shelf.
  • I con­sult­ed arti­cle after arti­cle and book after book by LDS apol­o­gists and found their answers to biased, uncon­vinc­ing and some­times pathet­ic.
  • In 2014, I dis­cov­ered via the inter­net that there are hun­dreds of thou­sands of Mor­mons, maybe mil­lions just like me who have the same ques­tions regard­ing the same issues.
  • Con­se­quent­ly, I found that there are far more LDS Church “prob­lems” than I had ever imag­ined.

In ear­ly 2015, I stum­bled upon “the Essays” pub­lished by the Church on its web­site LDS​.org which address some of these trou­bling ques­tions. I walked away from that expe­ri­ence with a con­fir­ma­tion that almost all of the prob­lems I had with the Church are admit­ted­ly REAL prob­lems and “the-one-true-church” with a direct pipeline to God (incred­i­bly) has no sat­is­fac­to­ry answers to ANY of them.

In short, my shelves came crash­ing down.

For me, the essays put the Good House­keep­ing seal of approval on my stud­ied and prayer­ful con­clu­sion that my per­cep­tion of God’s one-true-church as sim­ply a mass of con­fu­sion was jus­ti­fied.

The best anal­o­gy I have is this: At an ear­ly age, I was giv­en a box con­tain­ing a jig-saw puz­zle. The pic­ture on the box was a beau­ti­ful and com­plete pic­ture of a per­fect Mor­mon world. Dur­ing my life­time, I have been try­ing to com­plete the puz­zle to match the pic­ture on the box but I have been stymied to com­plete it because I have scores of pieces that sim­ply do not fit, any­where. I’ve been told that I’m not try­ing hard enough, I’m not wor­thy enough and the pieces will fit if I just obey, focus and work hard­er. Then, in an epiphany at age 61, I dis­cov­ered the truth: the errant pieces actu­al­ly do not fit, nev­er did, nev­er will… and more impor­tant­ly, it’s not my fault.

For years, I felt like a part of me was dead inside, now a crush­ing weight has been lift­ed from my shoul­ders and I final­ly have some peace.

With that peace has come a good deal of col­lat­er­al issues that bring future chal­lenges.

I final­ly dis­cussed my de-con­ver­sion with my true-believ­ing-Mor­mon wife (whom I love more than life-itself) and I effec­tive­ly broke her heart. The last eight months have been painful. I have lov­ing chil­dren, grand­chil­dren and friends who have been (or are about to be) hit with this ton of bricks. I cringe at what could hap­pen to our rela­tion­ships and our hap­pi­ness.

In April 2015, I asked to be released from my call­ing as Ward Clerk. A few weeks lat­er I emailed my Bish­op (respect­ful­ly) with a non-detailed sum­ma­ry of the same infor­ma­tion I’ve not­ed above with a thank you and state­ment that I would no longer be attend­ing church. He replied that he respect­ed my deci­sion and would like to dis­cuss my spe­cif­ic issues. I replied that I would love to meet with him. That was May 2015. As of this writ­ing, eight months lat­er, I have not heard back from him. I can empathize with that.

Today, I’m in a state of uneasy lib­er­a­tion. That, with a hint of imbal­ance like the prover­bial “Fid­dler on the Roof”. Also, occa­sion­al pangs of guilt; Guilt from being so gullible; Guilt from mis­lead­ing my chil­dren; Guilt from judg­ing oth­ers; Guilt from pro­vid­ing tac­it sup­port for racism and homo­pho­bia; Guilt from allow­ing oth­ers to do my think­ing.

Head­ing into 2016, I find myself most­ly relieved but a lit­tle lone­ly at times with few objec­tive ears to talk to except my ther­a­pist, a few acquain­tances from my new Sun­day morn­ing ex-mo meet-up group and of course, my strug­gling but lov­ing wife.

It’s a bit of a sad con­clu­sion to 60 years of faith­ful devo­tion to a church, but I now have an open door­way to an hon­est and authen­tic future. I’m OK with that.

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deacon bluesCaitlin BellKevin RexWes TrexlerJohn Krok Recent comment authors
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deacon blues
deacon blues

This is so sim­i­lar to my feel­ings it’s weird. Does the church con­tribute to depres­sion for those of us who don’t get a wit­ness? I’m becom­ing more and more con­vinced that it does.

Caitlin Bell
Caitlin Bell

This is awe­some! Guilt is not a nat­ur­al emo­tion to feel and the church cap­i­tal­izes on that to the fullest. I hope your expe­ri­ence leav­ing has got­ten bet­ter as time has gone on. It’s def­i­nite­ly strange to know that peo­ple who once viewed you as a friend now can pity you and think there must be some­thing wrong with you because you don’t believe their lies any­more. You’re not the only one in that ward who has left and I dare­say you won’t be the last.

Kevin Rex

Wel­come to the Exmo life. I’m 52, left Mor­monism and pro­claimed my gay sta­tus 2 years ago. Now, I’m hap­pi­ly mar­ried to a man, and, except for a few bouts of anger and guilt, enjoy­ing life with­out reli­gion, but still try­ing for some spir­i­tu­al­i­ty. It cer­tain­ly wasn’t the “good ship lol­lipop” that we were on, was it?

Wes Trexler

I espe­cial­ly appre­ci­ate your “soul-crush­ing ques­tions”, as I feel all mem­bers bat­tle with those at times. Some are bet­ter than oth­ers at ratio­nal­iz­ing away such ques­tions.

Also, your con­clu­sion that, “I’m OK with that” is one of those spe­cial moments for me as well — real­iz­ing that life with­out the Church insti­tu­tion is not as ter­ri­ble as I was led to believe it would be.

Thanks, Lar­ry.

John Krok

Thank you for shar­ing your jour­ney. You are not alone. Don’t feel guilty, but under­stand that that is part of the “debrief­ing” that we go through after so many years of faith­ful ser­vice to an organ­i­sa­tion that doesn’t know or want to know how it has been a part of the prob­lem. Its inter­est­ing that you have used the anal­o­gy of the “shelf”. It seems to be the only answer in deal­ing with the prob­lems in the church. Ive put my own thoughts togeth­er with that shelf in mind and will post it soon. Hope­ful­ly you will see that your not the only per­son that has gone on this jour­ney. Ive found that a lov­ing fam­i­ly con­tin­ues to love each oth­er uncon­di­tion­al­ly as the Sav­iour would. Your fam­i­ly knows the intent of your heart and so will love you regard­less of your feel­ings towards the church. Obvi­ous­ly they will try… Read more »