I have to admit, there are times I miss being part of the club, I miss the socialization, the camaraderie of being part of something that most people you know are part of. Feeling like you are part of something bigger than you.
But no matter how much I wish the church were true, it simply isn’t. No matter that I see my children hearts broken when friends are forced to choose between them and the church and they choose the church because they think the leaders are the arbitrators of who, and who doesn’t get forgiveness in this world and the next. No matter that I fear for them being the odd exmormon kid in Utah where an avowed atheist is allowed to attend BYU but the person that lost their LDS faith is kicked out. Some days I desperately wish that it was true so that I didn’t fear for the social effects of disbelief amongst the believers has on my family.
But it isn’t and I can’t pretend it is. You see I was taught a very simple logical principle, that the church is true because Joseph Smith was a prophet. He was a prophet because God said so. We are assured of that claim because he produced this Book of Mormon to prove it. To me at a very personal level the LDS church was restored truth. It got the world back to original Christianity that was lost when Rome killed all the apostles and put their own talking heads in charge. The catholic church was great and abominable and caused all sorts of false religions to splinter off and start up to lead the children of men away down false paths that had only a portion of the truth but not all of it.
Logically this made sense. I never imagined a divine perfect father in heaven having fuzzy truths that were sorta true or kinda right depending on whoever you were or what religion you belonged to. Maybe that makes me a zealot or maybe I was naturally that way, but I felt truth is truth, there is not kinda or sorta fuzziness about it.
I was 100% sure I knew as sure as the sun was shining that I was in the right religion, the one that eventually would take over all the rest and bring all truth unto it. All of that rested on a single keystone though. The claim of one man that he was the prophet that God called to restore his church. The logic is really that simple, his claim has to be true for the church to be true. If that claim is false, then the church is false. Just like Gordon B Hinkley said:
“Our whole strength rests on the validity of that vision. It either occurred or it did not occur. If it did not, then this work is a fraud… upon that unique and wonderful experience stands the validity of this church.” 1
You see if Joseph was lying or even hallucinating about that claim then it follows that the church is not true. No matter how much I wish it were. If it is not true, then what? Should I pretend it is? Should I go along with it because it just ‘works for me’? Or should a person have the integrity to stand up and declare what they have discovered even if it isn’t what your friends or family want to hear? Having made that choice, I have to live with it now. I am sure the church is not true and guess what, sometimes living with that knowledge really sucks. Sometimes it means you look a man in the eye that you deeply respect and watch him tear up because he doesn’t understand why you would leave the faith you once loved. You have to live with the fact that because of basic human psychology there will be some people you care for that will never honestly question the faith like you did. They will never fully understand where you are coming from when you tell them you know the church is not in fact true. That is what my post is about today. How I know the church isn’t what it claims to be. It is not the fully restored gospel.
How do I know? Because to claim that it is means that the God of the Mormon church is a-ok with forcing 14 year old girls to marry 37 year old men. It means literally that Joe Smith could do exactly what Warren Jeffs did and it’s all good because he was a ‘real’ prophet. You can’t call this anti-mormon propaganda anymore. The church has admitted that these are the facts.
But consider this. No matter the spin you put on it a 14 year old girl was coerced into marriage with a 37 year old man. The same man that spiritually married 2 at least nine other teenage girls, most without his wife’s knowledge or consent. Those are the simple facts. Now I know it is possible to put these things on your mental shelf, I did that myself when I discovered that this same person ordered a printing press destroyed to cover it all up. You shelve them and try not to think about them because they make you question. Would God really command this guy to marry teens or was he just a horny and possibly deluded megalomaniac with a messiah complex? Would God really want him to destroy a printing press that exposed his affairs with over 40 women of Nauvoo that would eventually lead to his death in jail?It really does come down to that one single question:
Was Joseph Smith who he claimed to be?
I don’t think so. Because I don’t believe any divine being with a hint of intelligence would send an angel to force Joe to marry a bunch of other mens wives and teen daughters and then try to cover it up in a way that would make him look like a total jerk and cause people 150 years laters to lose faith in his one true religion. That makes no sense. 3 I don’t believe a divine being would have his prophet translate some ancient papyri that would later be found and would easily prove he was making it up. I don’t believe a divine being would fill his ancient record that proved said prophet was a prophet with anachronisms that would later try the faith of all his followers. To put it simply I cannot believe in a loving father in heaven that would deceive his children as a way of testing their faith in him…. I personally would never do that to my children, I think it is morally despicable and completely un-godlike.
You see, I simply do not believe God is that tricky. To believe in the truthfulness of the church once you realize these simple facts are true means you must justify them and the only way to do that is to imagine a divine being that is like a 9 year old with an ant farm. (You know, just messing with us randomly to see what we will do.) I could not imagine such a person claiming to be a loving father looking out for us. It doesn’t make sense to me and even if I am wrong I realized that is not the type of person I think is worth worshiping. Do you think you could worship the kind of God that Warren Jeffs believes commanded him to do what he did? In any time or any place? Think about that.
But simply put, if there is a God in heaven and he isn’t a trickster, then this can’t be the right religion because of the simple facts. They don’t add up if God really is a decent guy. Men on the other hand…they have proven to be really tricky, especially when it comes to churches. You can find example after example of guys pulling religions of their hats. It’s a trick that has been going on since the beginning of time.
You see, if you check the facts, the idea that Joseph was a prophet just doesn’t add up. Not any more so than the claims of Muhammed or the claims of Warren Jeffs. And that means the church just isn’t true no matter how much you wish it was.4
- General Conference, Oct 2002 ↩
- again just like Warren Jeffs, because polygamy was illegal at that time and place just like here and now. ↩
- the same being also didn’t think it was worth his time to stop subsequent prophets from being total racist jerks either, won’t marry a teen bride, send down the sword angel…. treat black people like slaves… eh no biggie ↩
- I’d like to point out that there is no emotion in this logic, simply the facts. I realize that you can pray and get a testimony that the church is true. I did it and I had one right up until my shelf collapsed after realizing this simple logic. It is completely possible to feel like the church is true and ignore this logic, in fact that is exactly what all religions do. They push you to ignore evidence and just trust them…. they tell you to pray and that if you try hard enough you can hang up all these doubts and still believe… and you can do that. It is possible especially if you really really want it to be true. But consider this… Have they ever at anytime said it was possible to get a negative answer? Imagine if a Muslim told you the same thing, that only if you prayed hard enough you would know for a fact that Muhammed was truly the last prophet on earth (we are not talking half ass prayers here, you have to put all on the line) would you be willing to try that hard or would you recognize that proof that comes that way isn’t valid because it doesn’t allow for the false outcome? If you are truly honest with yourself and your search for truth shouldn’t you pray just as hard to know if Islam is true or if Warren Jeffs is the true prophet? When you realize why you won’t do that… That is when you realize your own feelings are not all that effective at picking out truth from falsehood, if they were then all the conmen with all their tricks in the world would be totally out of a job. ↩