Due to there being “opposition in all things,” many of you will find as you exit Mormonism that that there is eternal progression outside the gospel that counter-balances the “celestial progression” you experienced within it. This is to be expected. It should be welcomed and it should be cherished. Here’s a brief overview of what some significant milestones have looked like in my heathen progression:
- First time going “Hmmm?” when something about the church didn’t seem right.
- First time deciding that my “testimony shelf” was full enough already and I couldn’t put one more thing up there without searching and pondering.
- First time reading something about Mormons, not written by Mormons.
- First time allowing myself to consider the question: “If the LDS faith were not true, would I want to know it?”
- First time pondering the obvious follow-up thought, “If the LDS faith were not true, how would I know it?”
- Briefly occupying the no-man’s land where I admitted to myself that the LDS faith is bogus but that it does so much good, so I’ll stay in it and stay quiet so as to not make waves.
- First time pinching my own child so that I’d have to take her out during sacrament meeting because the talk was unbearably ridiculous and false.
- First time saying, “No” to a calling.
- Realizing that I wasn’t going to be able to maintain the facade peacefully for very long.
- First paycheck I didn’t deduct 10% for tithing.
- First full month of no church.
- First cup of coffee.
- First taste of alcohol.
- First time not wearing garments all day.
- Resigning from the church officially.
- First guilt-free sex outside of marriage.
- First time having to replace secular underwear with secular underwear.
- First full month of no visits or participation in any Ex-Mormon board.
- First time I blew it in a big way and I realized that there was only me to make it better, no invisible sky daddy to pray to who could take it away. Just me and my better behavior in the future.
And now I come to where I have arrived in my progression recently…
- The first time finding the ex-Mormon comments on a bulletin board to be as irritating as a True Believing Mormon’s.
I know that foolish comments are part of ANY large group of people and there are no exceptions that I can think of, so here’s a look at some common ideas, comments or posts on ex-Mormon boards that should be purged but likely won’t.
Missionaries : “The missionaries just stopped by, I told them they were liars and slammed the door shut!”
Having been a naive missionary myself and knowing that my own son is likely indoctrinated enough to agree to it himself after high school, I hate seeing them mistreated. Most of them have no idea about the shady side of Mormonism, as I didn’t. They are not the enemy. When they stop by or talk to me on the street my instinct is to be friendly, but honest. I’ve even invited them over for food (never accepted). I’ve never had the opportunity to share much more with them because my priority is to be polite.
Home Teachers: “My home teachers just shared an Ensign article with me that got my blood boiling.”
Here’s one I understand, but I still believe the onus to set boundaries and expectations lies with you. You want to be rid of it? Then resign from the church. I did and haven’t been bothered once since. But if for some reason you can’t or don’t want to resign then it’s up to you to establish appropriate boundaries in your home. If that means no home teachers, then say “no”. If it means they can’t just stop by without an appointment, then tell them so. If you welcome social visits without prayers and a lesson, open your mouth and have the balls to establish that boundary in your own home.
Relatives: “They always have to say a damn prayer or have some sort of lesson when we’re at their house!”
Location. Location. Location. It’s their house. They’re not obligated to modify their behavior because of you. Even if you are their daughter, son, parent, brother, sister, in-law or guest. Be polite and gracious for God’s sake! Or, alternatively stay away and keep your distance.
In your home, however, the onus is upon you to set the boundaries. If you let them railroad you in your own home, you need to grow some balls. “Thanks for the offer, but in our home we don’t do that.”
Word of Wisdom
Coffee: “Help. I tried coffee for the first time and I hate it. What do I do?”
Then you stop drinking it, moron! If you don’t like it, don’t do it! There are a lot of non-Mormons who don’t like coffee or who don’t drink it for one reason or another. It doesn’t make you any less of an apostate if you choose not to drink coffee.
Still, a little online research wouldn’t take long to help you discover the type of coffee you might like. Think of it as chocolate. If you’ve ever tasted pure cocoa (chocolate) it’s nasty. But maybe you’d like that bitter kick. If so, try an espresso. Some people like dark chocolate and some people like milk chocolate. If you are the former, try coffee with sweetener, but no milk or cream. If you are the latter, add milk or cream or try a latte with any of the popular flavors.
Alcohol: “What are you drinking?”
As with coffee, it’s not necessary to drink alcohol to live in the world. A lot of people live happy Mormon-free lives without it. But in the case of alcohol there’s a lot more to it. An education course might be helpful. You know that saying “everything in moderation”? I’m convinced alcohol was the reason someone first said it. It will take a few times to get the idea of what you like and how much you can handle, but ALWAYS pre-plan your ride home before you take a drink away from home. A cab ride or a hotel room are both cheaper and safer than a DUI.
I also think the verb “drink” is mistakenly applied to alcohol. It’s why people in this country have such an unhealthy relationship with it. In the case of beer and wine especially, they are best experienced as a long sipping session. Think of them as the cranberry sauce of a Thanksgiving dinner. Alone, not so good. But together with a full plate it adds a balance. Beer and wine enhance another food item or even just add something special to an experience. Alone, without friends or food, it’s quite nasty.
We all walk away from Mormonism with a healthier sense of skepticism but there are some on those ex-mo boards that are just asses about it. Many now mistake experience with authority. If someone like Steve Benson writes something of his experiences, he’s often taken down as if he were assuming some sort of authority over them. Take also the whole Tom Phillips “surprise.”
For those who don’t know, Tom Phillips is a former LDS Stake President in the UK who experienced a faith crisis, left the church and then related his experience of receiving the “Second Anointing” at great person cost (in written form, Tom’s four hour podcast on John Dehlin’s mormonstories). He’s been claiming for months that there’s more shocking news to reveal but because it hasn’t happened yet there’s name calling and doubt.
I certainly wouldn’t hold my breathe or base my entire life on it, but I’m willing to give the guy the benefit of the doubt… or anyone else who relates an experience on those forms. These people no longer hold any authority over me regardless of their higher connections.
If you think something is bullshit, the answer is not more bullshit. I’m ok being around and having believers as part of my circle of friends, but quoting Biblical scripture or imagining what God said regarding Mormonism it utterly a waste of additional time.
New Order Mormons
As they say, you can’t polish a turd, but I am able to allow that not everyone has experienced the extent of negativity that I have in the Mormon faith. I left Mormonism because it’s what I had to do for my own integrity and peace of mind. But I don’t know what is best for others who encounter the same truths. Take the in and out experiences of John Dehlin and there’s so many people who have no tolerance for someone like him. I say he’s entirely unreliable regarding his position towards Mormonism but the contribution he’s made towards Ex-Mormon progression is undisputed. I’ll take it and cheer him on regardless.