Santorum makes me want to throw up (make sure you click on the link if you don’t know the urban dictionary meaning of “santorum”). And few things can get to me like that. Self righteous arrogance will do the trick every time.
I recently received a comment to my blog that was dripping with the same sort of sanctimonious “holier than thou” sentiments that we are seeing in the current political discourse. It was from a former missionary like myself who commented on my post Send My Child on a Mormon Mission?
So, as with previous comments of a similar tone, I’ve decided to address the submission right here front and center. For the never Mormon readers who may pass through here, the sort of thinking (or lack thereof) evidenced here is why those of us who leave the LDS faith would never return. And I’m ashamed to admit that I was much like this man when I was fully entrenched in it. The following comment comes from us courtesy of a “Jason Campbell, dds,” according to the e-mail address:
I am trying to write this to the author of the blog:
You simply went on your mission for the wrong reasons.
Isn’t it wonderful, isn’t it marvelous how a righteous man such as yourself can drop by a blog, read one article, and with the gifts of the spirit that you obviously possess diagnose my entire 2 year mission experience at the drop of a hat?
Such a simplistic notion is evidence of a simplistic mind. Clearly the decision to serve a mission is a complex one filled with a wind range of reasons, hopes and expectations. The last time I checked any sort of LDS mission preparation material there wasn’t a wrong reason for serving a mission. Obviously, it’s a sliding scale and there are better reasons than others.
Unlike many of my peers on my mission I went because I believed in the gospel… all of it. I believed that Spencer W. Kimball was a prophet when he said that all worthy males should serve a mission. Since I was worthy, and male, was the desire to obey that commandment an erroneous reason?
I was “carefully indoctrinated and trained through the family and the organizations of the Church, and [went] to the mission with a great desire.” Was that the wrong reason?
A mission is about serving others.
No, a mission is about CONVERTING others. There’s a big difference. In the Mormon mind those are one and the same. But in the real world they are vastly different. To an outsider, there’s no real service to humanity in the current LDS mission program. A neighborhood isn’t made any better for having Mormon missionaries living in it. That sort of connection only exists in the minds of the LDS faithful as if by virtue of conversion to Mormonism an individual automatically becomes a better citizen. That may be the end result in some rare cases, but there may be negative outcomes in others. In most conversions I would suggest that it’s a wash. To the community at large, the individual convert is of the same value to the whole as they were before the conversion.
I complained about the living conditions in Argentina on my mission and then one day a companion said, Elder, you will be going home in a few years. These people will not. They will live out their lives here. That really hit me.
I’m baffled that the concept actually had to be pointed out to you. This likewise makes absolutely no sense in reference to my original argument. Let me see if I understand your case: So, because Argentinians were destined to live there permanently in unhealthy living conditions then you should have to as well?
You actually reinforce my argument here that your time would have been better spent doing something to permanently improve the living conditions in Argentina rather than on conversions.
I learned to love the people and serve them. My mission was not about me.
I did too, although I obviously take issue that any of us really “served them” in any concrete way.
Upon returning from my mission I began working at the MTC in Provo Utah. In order to do so one needs a recommendation from your mission president. One of the items on this recommendation form asks if the former missionary in question was among the top 10% of missionaries who served in that mission. Without that checked “yes”, the MTC won’t even consider an applicant. I find it interesting that my mission president believed me to be among the top tier during his tenure and yet you can read just one of my blog posts and imply that I didn’t love the people, or serve them adequately and that I had somehow made the two years about me.
I’m glad I’ve not forgotten how the LDS faith nurtures sententious men who make comments like this. The further removed I am from it, the more I hope that I’ve cleansed that from my character.
I wasn’t there to learn a language, develop friendships, “find” myself, gain experience in a 3rd world country, become a better student etc.
None of us were there for those reasons alone, but in retrospect those are indeed the positive takeaways from having served an LDS mission. Like I said in the original post, those benefits can be better achieved in other ventures at much less personal cost.
I was there to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and I witnessed miracles in the lives of people I served and to this day I thank God that I was able to serve a mission. It would do it again in a heartbeat.
Please do detail the miracles…
I can see myself saying that sentence verbatim until about 8 years ago. But to this day I can’t describe a supposed miracle that occurred. Yes, I did teach many people and many of those folks converted. Many of them sacrificed greatly to do so. Some were rejected by their families, while others later served missions themselves and married in the temple. Some people converted who we never thought would.
Guess what? The same things happen within other evangelical churches. New converts adjust their lives to match the requirements of the new doctrine and culture. Those missionaries consider THAT miraculous too. In fact, people change every day in this world… atheists change and improve their own lives too. People quit drinking and smoking all the time. Some people become more loving to their families or stop unhealthy promiscuity – some do it with religion and some do it without. I’d love to know of the miracles that you witnessed in Mormonism that don’t occur anywhere else.
I’m guessing that since there aren’t any, you will default to something along the lines of, “The miracles I witnessed are too special and too sacred to share.” Sheeyeah, right!
To claim that it is somehow akin to going through prison or the holocaust is offensive to those who went through that. They had no choice. You and I did.
You misunderstood that part of the blog. I wasn’t comparing the two scenarios. I was explaining my disagreement with the pop culture concept that since I got something good out of a mission that it was “meant to be” or that that’s what was “supposed to happen.” Meaning is derived by how you react or approach experiences, not in the experiences themselves. I still stand be that example and I believe the tone was respectful to holocaust survivors.
It’s ironic timing to get this comment from you when the LDS church is being highly criticized publicly by the Jewish community themselves for disrespecting their Jewish ancestors by performing ordinances for the dead. I’d like to get the opinion of a Jew whether they consider my comment or the doctrine of baptisms for the dead more offensive.
We chose to be there and if you didn’t want to be there you should have had the guts to leave. No one forced you to go and no one forced you to stay.
Unfortunately, while I was there I didn’t know what I know now. I was there voluntarily and as I left my mission honorably I would have praised it like you do here.
It is a bit disingenuous to make this comment, however, when we both know there is tremendous pressure on young men to complete a mission. When a missionary admits that they want to leave there is a great deal of coercion to stay. I was assigned to one such companion on my mission. He wanted to leave but the mission president decided to ignore his request and transfer him to me. I also have a brother who DID leave his mission only 3 or 4 months in. After several high-pressure interviews with his mission president, there was an international conference call arranged with our local stake president in the states. My father and I were invited to this meeting which was for the sole purpose of convincing him to stay. He was bawling that he didn’t want to stay and only my Dad was telling him that he couldn’t care less and that if he wanted to return he was welcome to come home.
Once back home there is even greater shame and embarrassment heaped on the poor young guys. Everyone assumes that he had moral problems. And good luck trying to find a girl to date when you’re someone who left his mission early!
I sense in your post that you are not very happy person and whether you can admit it or not the choices you are making are what is not making you happy.
And that’s where the dripping sanctimoniousness rears its ugly head.
First. According to Mormon teachings it would be unthinkable that an apostate let alone a gay apostate could be happy. So, this statement is a no-brainer for someone thus indoctrinated like yourself. I’m not even going to do the work to gather the numerous quotes by the Mormon General Authorities (someone else has HERE), or shall we say the earth’s experts on human behavior and happiness that say as much. That perspective is a sure knowledge given to followers who lap it up with eagerness.
The truth hurts sometimes and it is obvious to me that you know what is right and until you admit it and return to Christ you will not be happy.
The truth hurts indeed. Discovering the truth of Mormonism was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. It hurt to admit I was following a hoax for so long and that I had operated as a tool in the conversion machine. But I’m extremely proud for having left once I recognized it. Most people of whatever background stay in the religion of their birth regardless of what they believe. Staying is easier. Once I no longer believed, I did leave and I’ve found peace and more happiness as a result. That’s my experience that I share here.
I don’t claim to diagnose or prescribe leaving Mormonism to anyone else. The doctrine and teachings didn’t fill me with joy in the end and I don’t see that it does that for many people I know in my personal life…but I’m willing to acknowledge that it might. I can see that there may be many positive benefits for an individual to remain in Mormonism and yet I know all too well that there are harmful aspects.
One last comment regarding your last sentence… there are many former LDS folks who leave Mormonism and “find Christ” elsewhere. They also report happiness in their destination. I find it interesting that you automatically assumed that since I have left Mormonism that I don’t have any sort of relationship with Christ.
Thanks for dropping by! This was fun.