High Stakes

Not long ago, someone told me that I needed to really try hard to overcome my “issues” with the LDS church because “the stakes are so high.”

Back in my believing days, I would have agreed that the stakes were high: my eternal salvation depended on having faith in the gospel I had been taught all my life. Losing my faith was akin to spiritual death in that I would forever be cut off from God’s presence.

When I first left the church, I felt a sort of desperation to find a “true” church I could live with, but when I determined that my situation didn’t allow for such a search, I decided I would just keep going to LDS meetings, though participating minimally and believing even less.

That’s been about all I could do and still feel comfortable with myself. But a couple of weeks ago, I went to a “Bible church” here in Utah County, and I found that I didn’t really feel any more at home with this group, but I did realize that for once I let my guard down and tried to absorb something from the meetings.

It occurred to me that my guard is always up at LDS meetings. I don’t let anything in because I don’t really want to revisit the pain and disappointment of discovering it’s not true. But I’ve thought that, although I won’t ever be a believer in the LDS sense of the word, I can still worship in my own way with the Saints.

I know some people think that doing so would just make me lukewarm, though I suspect that God reserves that term for people who are undecided about their commitments. I am not. I know that I will never believe in Mormonism again. It simply isn’t true. But I wonder if the stakes are really that high.

Can I make a life for myself within the Mormon sphere without embracing it as true? I have no idea. What do you think?


28 Responses to High Stakes

  1. Simeon says:

    I’m sure there are plenty of NOM’s out there that would say yes. As long as you’re one of the users and not one of the used (as you would say), I see no reason why not.

    The question is probably more of whether you want to or not. If you feel like you gain anything, you should do as you please. I’m betting you could gain just as much from any number of church’s though.

    On your other point, if it simply isn’t true, why are you wondering “if the stakes are really that high”? My gut reaction is to say that if it’s not true there are no “stakes” other than family relationships.

    If you get any enjoyment of fulfillment at all out of church and if it helps with family relationships, that’s probably the way to go. On the other hand, if going back to church makes you angry, crazy, bitter or all of the above, like it does to me, you should probably limit your intake.

    Just my two bits. I’ve asked myself the same thing many times over the last 3 years and even got psychotic enough to actually think about being rebaptized. That’s another story though.

  2. edgeReiver says:

    I believe one (people such as you and I that have left the church but are still living within its sphere) can make a life for themself there as long as those close to them (primarily their spouse) who guard the sphere will allow them to decide its boundaries.

    As with anything else that lay in the grey areas between the black and white extremes, the sphere boundary will wax and wane.

    If I am honest with myself I know that I would have nothing to do with the church if I was able to do so. Knowing that, in the interest of keeping my marriage and family together, I make a compromise about staying in the sphere, I often get resentful because I don’t always see the compromise being made by the “still member” members of my family. Allowing me to help define the boundaries of the sphere seems like an equal compromise.

  3. Well, I work for a company in an industry that I manifestly do not believe in, but I’m coming up on 10 years now, and I have lots of good income to show for it, plus good friends and working conditions. I see somewhat of an analogy: If you can quantify some rewards that come from the church even if you don’t believe its dogma, including the rewards of family harmony and togetherness, then stick with it.

    Tell you the truth, without my wife and kids, I don’t think I’d be attending church either right now, even though I still believe in the theology. At this point in my life, I just find Mormon practice so boring and time-consuming, and I’ve got so much other stuff going in my life (mostly work) that I’d love to have those precious few hours back to myself.

  4. I think you could make a life for yourself. But not a happy, authentic one. I know, cuz I tried until I caved / cracked up. The thought-police would always plague you and try to get you ‘back in line’. Plus your own decades of programming would always create that depressing and fearful cog-dis tension.

    I think a NOM can exist for a while, but not indefinitely. On the MADB board I have recently seen some long-time apologists start to have their testimonies begin to crack; because you can’t hold the truth (evidence that it’s NOT true) and try to make it work indefinitely.

    To me it’s like trying to pretend your wife isn’t having an affair because you want it to be true that she isn’t; though, you’ve walked in on her and her high-school lover twice in the past week. Sure, you could make a life of it…but at what cost…and…is it a happy or authentic life?

    Of course, who am I to talk. I’m the guy who almost ruined his marriage by trying to force-feed truth to my wife. I now simply have the luxury of it being ‘safe’ to have a mostly authentic life because my DW is on board, happy and ok being completely outside of LDSland.

    Anyway Runtu, you are one of my favorite people and author on this little blue planet of ours. I just thought I’d share that with you. And THANK YOU for sharing your life with me, and all of us.

  5. Todd Wood says:

    There are many who do, Runtu.

    But I can’t.

    I couldn’t go through the motions of a system I don’t believe in.

    God does give all of us a conscience. And it can stay sensitive and alert if we don’t let it be pounded week after week.

  6. Scott says:

    Ever read anything by philosopher John Hick? He does a lot of stuff with philosophy of religion. He’s basically a universalist Christian, with some great perspectives. Not to say, “Read this and go Christian” by any means, and Hick has nothing to do with that anyway, but what he has analyzed about religion and philosophy might bring you to a comfortable understanding of how some theisms are rational, and if not that, it might bring you to an appreciation for what your Mormon family and friends believe (though I’m not sure if Hick ever mentions Mormonism specifically…). Hick’s short book “Philosophy of Religion” is a nice read. See if you like it.

    It’s too bad ex-mormons feel a lostness after leaving. I’ve had some Mormon friends who seem to have become hesitant with their faith, and sometimes I wonder what conclusions they will come to….

  7. jr says:

    Runtu: I am in the same boat. I’m trying hard to find any reason to keep attending my ward, aside from supporting my family.
    I’ll never believe in it again.

  8. Rick says:

    Simple. Mormonism is a tribe.

    Yes, it’s attached to a dogma — one that’s based on dramatic (and untrue, IMO) claims about uniquely inspired men with unique solitary claims of authority.

    But so does every tribe.

    If one can live in the tribe without too much cog-dis, and many of the family/friends are there, and you want to keep those family and friends, and they say you must stay in the tribe to be “good family and friends,” and the pain of changing those “family and friends” is too great…

    stay. (and take drugs and drink a lot)

    Otherwise, leave.

    For me it was worth it to leave and join a new tribe. One that doesn’t need me to do/not do, say/not say, drink, not drink specific things. One that accepts me as I am.

    My new tribe has nothing to do with religion, just normal folks that like and care for each other.

    It’s great!


  9. JAF says:


    It all depends. I wouldn’t consider myself a NOM, but I’m not a TBM. I’m in one of those many shades in between. Theologically, I find the church’s claims to be attractive. However, I’ve been a miserable Mormon for 5 or 6 years now. Recently, I’ve simply become complacent about whether the Church is run properly (though, as a pseudo-skeptic, I simply set aside apologetics and chalk it completely up to faith), and whether I agree with every word that is said at Church. For whatever reason, it’s made Church tolerable (and at times even enjoyable).

    My two cents (btw, this is the first time I’ve posted on your blog, but you seem to be an exceptional human being. Your honesty and fairness are appreciated here and elsewhere).

  10. K*tty says:

    Runtu, that is why the verbiage, Recovering Mormon, is so apropos. We all have to do it in our own way. It may not be the way others would choose, but we are still recovering, nonetheless. I think you hit on a good point. There is good spoken from several pulpits. Take the good and ignore the rest. Be with your family and do what you have to do. The Mormon people are just like other people of faith. And once in awhile, in class, speak up and clarify, if only with a snide remark. That was the way I was when I went. When the remarks were way too frequent, I knew I had to leave. Being away has given me more perspective and I think I could go back but not to stay. But really I can’t, I have nothing to wear. And I mean nothing. I no longer own a dress. My work requires, a nice pants outfit. If I wore a dress, I would be teased to high heaven. I recently attended an LDS funeral and I was the only woman not in a dress. I should have just worn a sign that said, “Non believer in the building.” So I will just continue to love and adore my Sundays, like I was never able to do before. Good luck with the book. Maybe you should publish on your own. Donations?

  11. Lone Danite says:

    You have simply spent too much time reading Mormon-Hating hogwash rather than the Book of Mormon. You really think it was nothing but luck that aided the Church in surviving indians, starvation and Mormon-Haters then to flourish in Salt Lake City? You can’t see the hand of God at work there? You really think Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon? Oh, it was written by someone else? Who? Where is the rough draft in their handwriting? God lives. And he decided to choose a prophet in North America named Joseph Smith to create a new church on the earth. Quit listening to what these Mormon-Hating douche bags are telling you and read your Book of Mormon instead. God is waiting for you with open-arms. He is waiting for you to read the book he has given you.

  12. K*tty says:

    Lone Danite, how many times do we have to read the Book of Mormon? Why don’t Mormons ever say to read the Bible? As someone once said, “It is easier to see the truth when you stop assuming you already have it.” Now, go your way and sin no more. Enough with the name calling, too.

  13. I’ve tried. Zeus knows I’ve tried and tried. It ain’t workin’ too well though…

  14. Lone Danite says:

    There is no end to reading the Book of Mormon, just like there is no end to truth, and there is no end to prayer. Don’t listen to this mean old lady Runtu, she is nothing but a mean ol Mormon-Hater. Keep reading it, just like the Buddhists keep meditating and the Muslims keep banging their heads on the floor. It is true, it is a true book. Joseph Smith literally reached into the earth and pulled out golden plates which he translated into english, I know this as much as I know I am typing on this keyboard. There is no real evidence to tell a different story except the one told by Joseph. For 150 years Mormon-haters have tried to explain it away to no avail. It is the word of God, read it.

  15. runtu says:

    LD, don’t be hating on K*tty. She’s a good soul, and she’s right about you: lose the name-calling, and people might actually listen to you.

    It also might surprise you that I’m reading the Book of Mormon currently. It’s still no truer than it was before, though.

  16. K*tty says:

    Hey, like wise, don’t listen to Lone Danite. His name says it all.(LONE) When the need to believe increases, the ability to discern truth decreases. Still wondering why Mormons can’t push the Bible reading. Could it be that if you read the Bible you can clearly see that Mormons are not on the same page with other Christians, let alone, God? Even the BoM doesn’t lend it’s self with the teachings of Mormonism. It’s an okay book, a little boring and run on, especially when you consider that each word was supposedly, laboriously carved in the plates. Just that fact alone, and the repetitiveness of many verses, is somewhat suspicious. Still waiting for the Discovery Channel to do their version on the Book, since no other archeologists, except Mormons, think it is a true history of anything. Meet me in Zarahemla and I will pay for lunch. Heck, I will even pay your way there. Hey thanks, for calling me old. I accept the compliment. Oh, and I do not hate Mormons, many are dear family members and friends.

  17. Lone Danite says:

    Well I NEVER! I see how it is Runtu. I can take a hint. I can catch your drift. I know what time it is. I can read the writing on the wall. wink-wink nudge-nudge and all that! Now I understand.

    Runtu, I think you know in your heart of hearts that you do, in fact, hate Mormons. Or at least you are starting to. And Kitty, the potted plants in the room know you hate them.

  18. Lone Danite says:

    “Awaiting Moderation!” don’t you trust me anymore Runtu?

  19. Lone Danite says:

    Come on, “douche bag” is a perfect word to describe your Mormon-Hating “friends” Runtu. Talk to me via Email, I will explain how the world really works: nrakrogstdadt@yahoo.com

  20. K*tty says:

    Runtu, Sorry about engaging in a discussion with Weston. It’s been awhile and I forgot who he was. He really doesn’t know that much about the church, so a discussion of any kind with him would be a waste of time. So of course there will be name calling. That is the first sign, there’s not going to be an intelligent retort. The second sign would be the lame name for his blog.

  21. Lone Danite says:

    K*tty, leave Runtu alone, he is trying to figure things out and he doesn’t need some mean ol’ lady trying to seduce him like the old which who seduced Snow White with that apple. You are clearly an angry, spiteful, decietful, old woman who is probably taking shots of Jack Daniels with a combination of Cymbalta and Prozac at this very moment. Don’t come in here blaming my religion for your depression, you did that to yourself. Now leave the guy alone before I write to your psychiatrist and tell her about all the things you are saying on the Internet that are bad for your mental health.

  22. K*tty says:

    Wow, Weston. I was amazed how easily you could rattle off those concoctions. Must be in easy reach to be able to spell those big words. You know what they say about pointing fingers. And just because you are in your thirties does not mean, I am old. I think you are a little jealous of all the attention that Runtu gets. And if he needs help, it is not going to come from someone so under-qualified as yourself. Surly you should know someone smarter and just a tad more thoughtful. Me thinks, you protest too much. You are probably too young to know what that means. Is your doctor taking new patients, or does he have all he can handle with you? We have to stop meeting like this, so lets just leave it as, we don’t care for each other. Well, actually, I think you really care more for me than I care for you. Let’s show Runtu some respect and not make this about us. Your blog screams of depression.

  23. Lone Danite says:

    Nah, I am rather enjoying this. I shall continue to point out your flaws and weaknesses. How about posting a picture of yourself, do you have a blog?

  24. catzgalore says:

    Why is it when Mormons talk to Christians and don’t have any more to say that they turn it into personal attack?

  25. catzgalore says:

    okay it isn’t ALWAYS. Just too many times.

  26. catzgalore says:

    sorry, Runtu. Delete my comments. Said in frustration, but not really profitable.

  27. catzgalore says:

    Okay, Runtu. You posted my comments. Then I have a question for Lone. When things turn into personal attack, does it help? Does it convince anyone of anything? What does it accomplish? Why does it happen? Is it showing someone you care to call them a douche bag, or a decietful(sp)old woman? How does that help people understand the message you are trying to get across? Isn’t your message supposed to be love? Does that make someone more likely to accept your religion? Why would I want to turn to your religion when I see what you are like? If I went by this thread, would I choose K*tty’s or Lone’s point of view? Lone, are you promoting your faith or tearing it down? I certainly would run the other way if you were offering the “truth” to me.

  28. kirsching says:

    I’ve never posted here but I can tell you that based solely on the responses I wouldn’t touch Lone’s angry hate-dogma with a ten foot pole. Who talks like that and expects to be taken seriously? From my experience only Trolls do.

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