After a profound crisis of faith in the summer of 2005, I went through a period of about 2 years or so when I had feelings of genuine anger toward the LDS church. I would regularly refer to the church as a “stupid fucking cult,” and when I drove past the stake center, I’d give it the finger. Childish, but true.
But the anger passed, and for some reason I’ve been thinking about why I was so angry. A lot of people feel like the church lied to them, and of course, that’s true in that they are not forthcoming about the church’s real origins and history. But I can’t say that about myself, because I knew about the “bad stuff” for about 10 years before I acknowledged to myself that it wasn’t true.
What made me angry is knowing that, for those ten years, I sold out my integrity to rationalize and justify things I knew weren’t right or true. My conscience told me it’s not right to pretend to translate Egyptian or engage in bank fraud or sleep around behind your wife’s back. But I rationalized all of that. I overcame my own conscience to defend wrong.
Lest anyone misunderstand, I believe that the LDS church works for a lot of people, and they are happy in it. It would make no sense for such people to leave the church. But it didn’t work for me, not least because of what it motivated me to do.
I think I’ve forgiven myself for all of that because, after all, I was only doing what I had been taught to do, and besides, I had a testimony, so there had to be an explanation for everything. But whenever I’ve been tempted at all to go back to church, I remember what it cost me last time.