To my friend who left the Church

You know when you write an email, but don’t really plan on sending it? That’s what this is. This post is a response to two people I know who decided to leave the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because of events in Church history, issues they have with modern revelation in relation to current social trends, or being offended by fellow Mormons. To some, this letter may sound too sarcastic, careless, or even self righteous. I may not be leaving the Church myself but I have my own set of sins to work out. This is just what I felt and thought when I considered my friends’ reasons for rejecting the Church after growing up in it for several decades. I kind of feel like this is a letter to myself for when I forget the ‘why’ behind my membership in the Church.

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The Sermon on the Mount (by Harry Anderson, Lds.org)

Dear Friend,

I’m sorry you’ve been forced to deal with imperfect Mormons. I’m sorry that their mortal short fallings have caused you to question your membership, your baptism, your covenants, your temple marriage, and your very life in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I commend you for leaving a church run by imperfect people that offended you. I commend you for leaving so people would stop judging you for being you. I’m so happy that, now distanced from the church, you can move forward with your life with no fear of judgment, criticism, or offense from anyone ever again. And even if you do happen to confront that again, you can apply the same prescription you did here and just leave and find something else. Something new. Something more exciting.

I’m so thrilled that you have found your ‘fairy tale’ ending, because I was convinced that eternal life, eternal love, eternal progression, and the eternality of the body, mind, and spirit with your spouse, family, and children was a fairy tale. A fairy tale for eternity with no ending. And not merely a fairy tale but a path wrought with real sacrifice and exquisite joy and adventure that points to Godhood. I’m so glad you have found something better that requires nothing of you in return. No submission of will, time, or talents, because you know better and you know best.

I was convinced that a man, named Jesus Christ, was part God and part man, literally the Son of God, and came to this Earth to heal the hurts, the regrets, the emotional and physical pains, and yes pain from offense so that we, the divine children of the Father of Mankind, could learn that He actually truly loves us and loves us so much that He said Himself that His work and His glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. He even said that, “men are that they might have joy”. I’m glad you found something more fulfilling and more enlightening than this.

I was under the impression that being human can be hard, really hard, so hard that it can bring you to your knees and cause you physical or mental anguish you did not think was possible. I’m glad you’ve shown me that it can be made easier by just walking away. I thought that trials were meant to bring us to our Father so that we could be refined and beautifully polished. Sanctified and made holy and glorious through the grace of God to shine as a hopeful light in a troubled world.

I thought that this sanctifying process involved aligning our views with Him and humbling ourselves so that he could then speak to us as His child and hold our hand and lead us to a potential we could never possibly dream of. I thought that the Gospel was about finding our true identity. I thought it was about losing our “old self in order to find the new self” (Neil A. Maxwell). I’m glad you’ve shown us that we, in this momentary mortal frame, can be our own God unto ourselves because only we know what is best for us. I’m so glad you have found a better way. A way that doesn’t make you feel peculiar or different, but more at ease in the world.

But I guess this doesn’t really matter to you because if you have faith in or even a desire to have faith in God or have faith that President Thomas S. Monson was divinely called of God as His prophet to lead the Church, this all sounds utterly ridiculous to you and your newfound ‘freedom’. And it will more than likely offend you, because you have forgotten that you are the child, not the Parent.

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