READER POST: I grew up with a story in my culture about faith and faithfulness and about what it meant to follow God. More specifically, I grew up with a story about people who left my faith community.
That story was essentially that I was part of the God’s chosen people who had the fullness of the gospel, the good news of Jesus. We were lead by men called of God who specifically and literally spoke face to face with Jesus and who were directed in all things leading the organization of the church.
Those who left, I was told, usually left because they were offended or wanted to sin. Their testimonies were weak. They “fell away” due to unfaithfulness. Our Heavenly Father still loved them, but they chose to reject that love because they didn’t understand it.
The ones who left but still had opinions about the church couldn’t leave it alone, mostly because they still knew it was true. Anyone who left and had something negative to say was anti-Mormon and wanted to make people as miserable as they were. They were seeking to lead people astray.
Those who stayed but chose not to follow the rules lockstep or who criticized the church leaders were on the road to apostasy. Apostasy always meant a separation from God, eventual atheism, and an eternal separation from loved ones with the knowledge that you fell short of your potential.
This is a story filled with tribalism, misunderstanding, self-protectionism, and fear. It is entirely missing compassion or empathy or understanding. It is a story which places the feeble understanding of men in place of the Savior of the World. It is based in a belief in restrictive, rather than expansive love. It asks us to believe that we understand God’s will perfectly.
It removes our ability to reach out to those in crisis in a way that allows them to be authentic. It isolates people who most need community. It makes our faith tradition less. Our people deserve much better. God is so much bigger than we give Them credit for. The people I know who have departed from orthodoxy or left the church entirely are largely kind, thoughtful people. Their stories are incredibly varied. None of them are worthy of the caricature that’s been painted of “apostates.”
This story is broken. I hope under the leadership of Pres. Nelson, and in the face of the increased faith shifts that will come within the church, my LDS friends across the belief spectrum will help rewrite it.
READER BIO: Lacey grew up in Eastern Idaho and is the daughter of a convert and a lifelong Mormon. Her own faith journey has taken her places she did not expect and she has embraced the idea that everyone’s faith is unique and valid to their own path. As a non-traditional believer, she is passionate about creating environments where charity allows us to understand each other and build Zion together.
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