Sunday, June 27, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
Even as a TBM, there were MANY things that I found to be quite disturbing, and could never honestly get past them. Here are all that I can think of right now.
The fact that TBMs believed that Spencer W. Kimball had to plea countless times to the Lord to give the blacks the priesthood. They basically implied that God allowed blacks to have the priesthood because he was being begged. This implies that God is a racist, and never wanted blacks to have the priesthood!
The fact that people don't get ANY preparation for the temple, except for, "Just remember, that it is all symbolic!" I remember my friend was unbearably nervous to go through for the first time. He spent about 20 minutes shaving, and was shaking in his voice! I felt horrible for him, and this actually frightened me! I was only 19 at the time!
When I was about 16, my bishop called me into his office for a "random interview", and he asked me point blank, "Do you have a problem with masturbation." I said, "no", and then he practically excused me from the interview. This was a lie, but I felt it wasn't any of his damn business!
When I was sitting in my "Teachings of the Living Prophets" class at BYU during Winter Semester of 2006, I remember my teacher kept emphasizing how the ONLY man who has ALL the priesthood keys was Gordon B. Hinckley. In my mind, the image of Hinckley smiling smugly entered my mind, for having all this authority, and I felt somewhat disturbed. This distracted me greatly, and I ended up getting a pretty poor grade on our first exam, because I was so distracted by the sick feeling I had in my gut for the extreme amount of authority the Prophet, First Presidency, and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles had. I tried to convince myself that this was how God wanted it, but deep down I could only see the pleasure they got out of having so much authority! I believe at this moment, I was beginning to have my eyes opened to just how strange this Mormon Church truly was! (Note: This was only a feeling, but a VERY KEY moment in coming to know the truth!)
When I was at EFY the summer before my 10th Grade year of high school, a girl said in her testimony that she feels bad for the TWO OR THREE POURS that her sins represented on Christ's body during the atonement. I remember thinking, "Good grief! Don't make your sins out to be so horrible!" I mean, if she were Hitler, then maybe she'd have a point, but she never murdered anybody, or slept with anyone's husband! I remember thinking, "Poor girl, being so *brainwashed* that you feel you sinned horribly!"
I remember being told growing up that revealing what goes on in the temple is grounds for being cursed by God! I thought that was a little extreme!
When I heard that someone told Dallin H. Oaks "I really enjoyed your talk", and Dallin H. Oaks repsonded, "I wasn't trying to entertain you", I though, "What a jerk!" I mean, he was just trying to make conversation, and a representative of Jesus Christ scolded him for it!
I was at a friend's apartment, and we were talking about the Church, and she said, "The work is going to go forward no matter what!" Even though I was bothered that I found it offensive, I just deep down thought that it was such an arrogant statement that the Church uses all the time.
In the year 2005, I was very disturbed that the Church was so obsessed with Joseph Smith, and BARELY even mentioned Christ. I asked myself, "Is this the Church of Jesus Christ or the Church of Joseph Smith?"
When I was in 9th Grade seminary, my teacher said that if you don't marry in the temple, you can be in the celestial kingdom, but only as a ministering angel. I remember thinking, "What? They can't get married in the next life? What a bunch of bullshit!" I wondered what would have happened if they decided they wanted to get married as a ministering angel? Are they screwed? Did they miss their chance? This really unsettled me.
I remember my 11th Grade Seminary teacher brought a replication of the Gold Plates, and they weighed about 90 pounds. We all lined up to lift them, and we barely could! Rather than making a point that it is very unlikely that anyone could carry this with one arm and fight off enemies, and jump over fences, he said, "Wouldn't you like to have him on your football team?" Deep down, I had a hard time comprehending how he could have possibly carried such a thing for over 3 miles!
At EFY, they kept emphasizing that girls should marry Returned Missionaries, and I had a pretty good idea that I wouldn't be going on a mission, so I thought, "I guess I'm screwed, right?" I was bothered that they couldn't just teach that RM or not, some men are simply worth getting to know for their inner virtue!
When I had to attend Bishop's Youth Counsel, I was disturbed by how highly unspiritual it was. All we discussed were ways to use the budget properly, and never addressed any personal needs in the ward. I thought, "If there's no spiritual feeling in these meetings, what's to say God is not with the Brethren during their meetings?!"
When I went to the Oahu Temple in Hawaii, and I went to the Visitor's Center and watched a short film, there was an electronic male manequinn who moved and talked, introducing the film. I laughed out loud, and I guess a temple worker got mad and told everyone to stop laughing. I couldn't help thinking, "What investigator is going to find this spiritually uplifting?!"
When I was about ready to graduate from high school, our entire 12th grade class had a testimony meeting at the Orem Institute of Religion in Orem Utah. Quite a bit of people bore their testimonies, and their stories were actually very diverse. I would say that this testimony meeting was actually not too bad, as they weren't being parrots. What disturbed me perhaps more than any other testimony meeting was just how there was an intense lack of spiritual connection with each other! There was nothing! Everyone sort of looked at each other with blank stares before and afterwards! Yet during their testimonies they were saying how much they loved everyone there!
After the meeting, I was walking around, and was floored by how many people I knew were just giving me blank stares! I was intensely disturbed by how excellent the quality of their testimonies were, but how cold and distant everyone was when they were NOT bearing their testimonies! All the seminary teachers who were there were giving me blank stares when I bore my testimony, as if they had no soul whatsoever!
I remember the rest of that night I felt horrible. It was as if I was experiencing the burning of the bosom during the testimonies, and the spirit of darkness before and after the meeting! As though they were combined! This feeling was so different from anything I had ever experienced. I felt awful that night, and the ONLY thing that gave me comfort later as I began to feel better was thinking about my friends who seemed sincere at the testimony meeting that night! So many people there just seemed so cold, and gave such blank stares! I mean, there was more of a spiritual connection amongst each other at the actual graduation ceremony! How could a group of high school students, spending 4 or more years growing up together, act so distant from one another during the testimony meeting that was supposed to be the final gathering before progressing even further?!
I would later conclude that within Mormonism, these relationships are disguised with "I know the Church is true", and "I know that you are my brother / sister in the gospel", but outside of that, they honestly don't know each other at all! Their relationships never reached below the surface! That is why they felt so awkward that evening, and unsure of what to say or what to do! They didn't know the people they believe they knew!
As I was in the process of getting used to college, I began noticing that my high school friends were starting to become strangers, and would not ever respond to my emails. These were the same friends who kept telling me how much they enjoyed me as a friend, and now they were just continually distancing themselves from me. I found this to be very disturbing. I didn't know it at the time, but because they never truly knew me at all, how could they have a hard time "moving on" from our friendship? They only knew the part of me that was public, and believed that the Church was true! They didn't know anything else!
Actually, I had a couple friends who began distancing themselves from me as they began getting to know me better. I think they were freaked out, because they felt intimidated by relationships in which someone shares things about themselves that goes below the surface. It was almost as if they were afraid of actually getting to know someone! How is never truly getting to know someone a healthy relationship? It only makes it easier to stop being their friend later on! These Mormon friendships are NOT true friendships!
When I joined one of my previous singles wards, in the sacrament meeting program, it said the number one priority for the ward was "building the Lord's kingdom". I thought, "What about fellowshipping our ward members?"
I went to a friend's mission farewell, who happened to be related to Dallin H. Oaks. I remember after the meeting seeing boys and girls around my age, or in High School, shaking his hand, and acting extremely chipper about it! They were smiling and laughing at the same time, acting really excited. I remember thinking, "Come on folks, he's just a man who happens to have a higher calling!"
At my friend's house, I was sitting down at the table with my group of friends, and I was eating food. Dallin H. Oaks came and sat down at our table. I remember feeling nothing! Not a thing! It was just as if some stranger came and sat with us! As a matter of fact, it was a little awkward, the way he was staring at all of us, as though trying to make us think that he can see into our souls! I left finding it kind of odd!
I remember being so mad in seminary once, because one of my classmates wouldn't stop bullying me, that I said, "Damn it." He freaked out that I swore in the Lord's building, and I felt nothing. All I felt was that I swore in a building. I didn't give a damn that it was in God's building. Looking back, I realize that the reason I didn't feel guilty is because a seminary building is just that! A BUILDING!
I remember in April of 2008, I was into HBO's "Six Feet Under", and when I attended the Priesthood Session, I kept having these feelings of guilt for watching that show, as it has a lot of sex and swearing. I believed that the entire conference was directed towards me! Later that night, I thought, "Am I actually naive enough to think that the entire session was directed towards me for watching Six Feet Under? What a joke!" I actually caught myself engaging in irrational thinking that TBMs get themselves into often! Then about three months later I began investigating true Mormon history, and realized it wasn't what it claimed to be, so I didn't feel guilty at anymore.
One evening in July of 2008, I came to the conclusion that the Mormon Church was NOT the one and only true Church. I had come to this knowledge because of the fact that if you are male, and have not served a mission, you will experience social rejection that I believed, and still believe, is unnecessary. I asked myself, "If you were in God's one and only true Church, wouldn't you feel welcome and accepted, no matter who you are, or whether or not you were able to spend 2 years preaching the gospel?"
This knowledge that the Mormon Church was not the one and only true Church had NOTHING to do with any knowledge about true Mormon history, or even any suspicions! In fact, I had no idea about any of it! This conclusion I had reached came before I even began investigating true Church history!
I remember thinking to myself, "It doesn't matter that I eat out on Sunday. It doesn't matter that I sometimes skip Church. The truth is, the Church is set up in such a way to isolate people like me, who truly are unable to go on a mission, for reasons outside their control! If this were the true Church, this would not be so!"
Then I began listening to Mormon podcasts talking about things that not very many people know about Church History. One of the podcasts that got me going on this journey was Mormon Truth Podcast, mormontruthpodcast.blogspot.com , made by Samuel the Utahnite! I would recommend this podcast for anyone, even if they are not Mormon! He provides clear and accurate resources that back up what he says!
Anyways, I began listening to his podcast, and I was actually smiling when he brought up things that most people would find very disturbing. I mean, I was disturbed that Joseph Smith was a serial adulterer and a liar, and that members still worship the hell out of him, but having my suspicions being confirmed that the Church is not true was actually exciting, and opened up new possibilities for my mind to explore what I never believed I could in good conscience explore! I gained my intellectual freedom!
Despite having my brain, I began feeling extremely angry towards the entire situation of being lied to, expected to do things for God that are really only for the Church, and for living in Utah County amongst the most zealous Mormons out there! My intellectual freedom came with a price: My silence.
So, to say that discovering the truth of Mormonism was all liberating and exciting would be a lie. Knowing that I had nothing to feel guilty for, or apologize for, was what I found to be exciting. I still felt disturbed by how powerful of a machine the Mormon Church was, and still is, and how many people suffer as a result of it!
So, those are some crucial things I experienced that led me to my journey of discovering the truth of Mormonism! I would like to give a shout out to Samuel the Utahnite for his passion, and dedication to sharing the truth with anyone and everyone! To listen to his great podcast, go to mormontruthpodcast.blogspot.com . You'll also find links to his other podcasts which are also great!