My First Kill

The other night I was talking to a self-described “New Order Mormon,” and he mentioned how much he enjoyed my blog, particularly my old blog, “Joseph’s Left One.” Back in those days I was probably more strident, more intent on being “right” about Mormonism, and it came through in my blog. Despite what some people claim, my intent was never to destroy faith, but rather just to put the facts out on the table. That facts are not kind to Mormonism isn’t really my fault.

My friend said that my blog was “the end” for his testimony. He said that he had been dealing with some issues regarding the church, and he and I had exchanged some emails. But the blog had laid out things in a way that he understood, and he felt the only conclusion possible was that the church wasn’t true, after all.

So, I admit it. I helped kill someone’s testimony. And I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, I haven’t done anything I didn’t set out to do: I just laid out the facts as I see them. Obviously, a lot of people disagree on the facts, which is why I have left the comments open here, so that people can disagree and even threaten violence, if they so choose.

However, I feel kind of bad because I know how painful it is to lose faith. I know how much it affects personal and family relationships, how much the social and financial costs can be. So, I’m sorry that my friend is dealing with all of that.

But then my friend has said he was already on his way out when he ran across what I’d written. I’m not so egotistical to think that what I say and think and write is so powerful that it sways anyone’s religious beliefs. It is what it is, and I make no apologies for what I have written, except for the occasional unkind remarks, which I am working on.

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6 Responses to My First Kill

  1. I received a similar message. Wonder if it’s the same person. I also had similar mixed feelings. But then I thought back on my own journey, and remembered how for me the truth was the most important thing, regardless of where it took me. I have no desire to force the truth on someone who doesn’t want it. But if I helped someone who *does* want it to find it, then I’ve done a good deed.

  2. I had a similar experience that was similarly bitter-sweet. I have a friend with whom I discuss religion on a regular basis. The other day she told me that she wanted to bare her testimony in fast & testimony meeting, but she couldn’t bring herself to say that she knew it was true. She said that it’s directly because of our discussions.

    I must admit that I was a little pleased that she was honestly considering the things we had discussed rather than just dismissing me as a tool of Satan. On the other hand, like you, I know how difficult the process of losing one’s faith can be. It’s not for everyone.

    In the end, she bore her testimony. If I remember correctly, she did not state that she knew the church was true. Instead, she bore her testimony that following the principles of the gospel has been a force for good in her life. As someone who continues to follow the majority of those principles, even from the outside of the church, I can say amen to that.

  3. runtu says:

    I dunno. This was an actual conversation, and I’ve known this guy for quite a while. I just hadn’t realized he had read my previous blog. But yeah, you have put out some excellent and thought-provoking stuff, Chris.

  4. Ray Agostini says:

    However, I feel kind of bad because I know how painful it is to lose faith. I know how much it affects personal and family relationships, how much the social and financial costs can be.

    The costs can be enormous, and often are. “All’s well that ends well.” We should thank those who weren’t afraid of hurting, and sometimes offending with the truth. It’s never your fault for telling the truth, and everyone is a free agent. You don’t make people’s decisions, you only help them to confirm those decisions. Why feel guilty? Two missionaries persuaded me into the Church, but it was still my decision, ultimately. Leaving was also my decision, aided by using my intellect, reading and learning more. It would make no difference where that information came from, a blog, or a book/s.

    Recently I got an email from a member who joined the Church when I was a missionary. We helped them in. I knew she would be shocked at my response, but I returned an email with a link to my blog, saying that will help you to understand why I am where I am. I got no reply, but noticed from my sitemeter that she probably read my blog. Tell the truth, about yourself and how you feel, and let the chips fall where they may. Or as the old saying goes, “to thine own self be true”. That’s all that really matters, come hell or high council.

  5. Seven says:

    I have had similar feelings when some family left the church after hearing of my issues and researching polygamy. I was relieved that they no longer viewed me as deceived by Satan but wouldn’t wish the pain I went through on anybody. I wondered if they were ever a little resentful toward me for being the catalyst of their testimony loss. I have never held one ill feeling toward the TBM that caused me to study church history so I doubt they do. (although I have my days where I wish I could go back and live in ignorance)

    Better for people to know the religion they have embraced than be duplicitous in covering up history/doctrines/disturbing teachings. I know how betrayed I felt when I learned of some family and friends who DID know some of the truth and kept it from me. I wouldn’t want to be on that side.

    You have no idea how many people you have HELPED by speaking the truth. So many are struggling to make sense of things that don’t make sense and need to know we are not alone.

    On that note, there is a family member of mine who has been struggling to understand “widow” polygamy as she prepares to go to the temple. Her husband is another faith and was bombarding her with Joseph Smith’s polygamy history. Until me she thought it was all anti Mormon lies and it was causing severe contention in their marriage. I was very careful what I said but I shared enough with her so she no longer views her husband as a “tool of Satan” and it has helped her marriage. She doesn’t know all of my story but has heard I am outspoken on opposing this doctrine. It has HELPED her to see a Mormon willing to discuss this openly and honestly. It has also helped her to see that I had never had a sure witness that the church is true and was never comfortable saying “I know.” She is not leaving the church but is more of a NOM now.

  6. Hellmut says:

    A couple of thoughts, Runtu. I felt liberated when I finally figured out that the Church was not true. I never got over my mission, which had been a testimony crushing experience but I did not give myself permission to stop believing.

    That only changed when I found the anti-testimony from a boyhood friend whom I still trusted enough to restudy Mormonism. When I found out about the September Six, I finally knew that the Church was not true for god would not require scholars to lie about their research.

    Finally, my life made sense. If it had not been for my friend, I might have been miserable for longer.

    Second, catching up with my childhood friends, I found out that Mormonism has been a blight on the life of many people, especially converts and children in part member families.

    The conformist pressures, the Mormon delusions about biology, and the authoritarian elements of Mormon theology have consequences in people’s lives. I know people who never should have gotten married but did so because they were the only ones qualifying for a temple marriage. We all know about the children who hurt themselves over sexual orientation and masturbation.

    Unfortunately, reality matters. I have my doubts about how solid my grip on reality is today but Mormonism was a serious obstacle.

    Of course, transitioning out of Mormonism presents its own hazards but it is good to be free from the artificial and unrealistic constraints.

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