A Call to Repentance – Stop Inviting People to Leave the Church

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As online discussions concerning dissent and apostasy in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have grown during recent months, I have seen a good number of faithful, believing members of the church wrongly encourage other members of the church to leave and find a different religion, or to start one of their own, because they have come to believe things that are contrary to the teachings of the church.

We need to stop it.

I understand the reasons why we say these kinds of things. Believe me, I know the frustration. It is easy to say, fine, if you don’t believe that God is leading His church through His apostles then go find some other church.

But saying that is wrong. If the church is true; if it is the only church with the authority from God to perform the ordinances of salvation and declare His will– and I know that it is– then we don’t want people to leave the church and join some other. We don’t want them to go off and start their own churches fashioned after their false notions.

We want them to stay, to repent, to abandon the false frameworks of interconnected ideas that lead them away, no matter how compelling those ideas seem. We want them to accept the authority of the apostles, and to develop confidence that they are true messengers of God and that He actively guides the church through them.

We recognize that they have agency to choose otherwise. But we should sincerely want them to choose the church, and to choose it not on their own terms but on the Lord’s terms.

So I encourage all of you, my dear allies in defense of the church and the apostles, to stop telling people to leave the church. Invite them instead to reconsider their false beliefs; to open their minds to the possibility that they are mistaken. Invite them instead to plant the seed of the words of the living apostles in their hearts, and not cast it off because of unbelief. Invite them to stay and submit to the authority and teachings of the church.

If they choose to leave, then we cannot stop them. If they refuse to repent and abandon their false doctrines, they may be excommunicated for apostasy by the proper authorities, for their own good and the good of the church. But our invitation should always be to repent and stay or to repent and return.

[Cross posted from Sixteen Small Stones]

45 thoughts on “A Call to Repentance – Stop Inviting People to Leave the Church

  1. I don’t see much difference, J Max. What people are being asked to recognize is that they have already left the Church while telling themselves that they are still in it, or that the implications of their arguments and beliefs is that they should leave the Church. In both cases, an end to self-deception is a necessary step to repentance.

  2. Thank you for this encouragement. We should always be acting in the best interest of our sisters and brothers as The Lord would do.

    However, there have been times in my life when we have given instruction to members on how to have their names removed from the rolls of the Church.

    As high priests it has been our duty to visit nearly – if not all – the inactive members in our ward. Sometimes there are inactives that want no contact from the church whatsoever. We would then ask if they would accept an annual newsletter and most would. Our stake president felt that if you are inactive and still have membership in the church that you should be willing to accept some kind of contact at a minimum of once per year. After all, I t’s the Lord’s church and not a social club.

    For those who wouldn’t even accept contact by mail we told them how to contact the bishop and that he would help them with their inactivity situation. This was done with love and humility and was always a last resort. Most didn’t want their names removed from the rolls of the church and many were eventually rescued in one form or another.

    It was difficult work and time consuming but well worth the effort to invite rather than ask to leave.

  3. Thanks for the posting! We worship, we serve, we invite, we pray. We don’t stone others. We turn the other cheek. The church as an institution will take care of itself, through its established processes — those processes are intended to be kind and only as firm as necessary. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I want to raise my voice in worship, in service, in invitation, in prayer. I most sincerely regret the current unpleasantness.

  4. An appropriate meeting at a serious level, whether as a visit with the bishop or in extremes, a disciplinary council may result in such a request to end membership, but most of us do not have the stewardship for such an action. All members should be meeting with their priesthood leadership at least every other year for a review of their beliefs in a Temple Recommend interview so it is not an unusual thing for members to be asked to affirm belief in core doctrines and practices. In my experience those who are never called to account suffer for the lack. They end up half in, half out and sometimes burden others w

  5. IMHO a lot unbelievers do more harm by staying than leaving, as they usually in their unbelief want to teach others that the church is false and they (believers) are being deceived. If they just would keep quiet and handle it through the proper priesthood authorities, instead of trying to get others to leave with them, then that would be another matter, but many people when they lose their faith, feel compel to tell others and start planting seeds of doubt and unbelief i.e. Kate Kelly.

    Still it’s not our place to ask them to leave the church and to love them and try to help them, but this becomes a very hard task as they harden they hearts, and are more willing to listen to other loud (apostate) voices.

  6. Sometimes it’s a rhetorical tool to get the person thinking why stay.

    A story from Elder Hinckley. You can point out differences but the he didn’t persuade or suggest to repent or plead or serve, but in at least this case felt it was appropriate to get to the heart of the matter. Should you stay or should you go. I agree that we shouldn’t be aggressively telling people to leave but laying out the options is definitely a valid tool in a conversation. Not being aggressive.

    ” I have been thinking this morning of a friend of mine whom I knew when I was on a mission in London thirty-six years ago. I remember his coming to our apartment through the rain of the night. He knocked at the door, and I invited him in.

    He said, “I’ve got to talk with someone. I’m all alone. I’m undone.”

    And I said, “What’s your problem?”

    And he said, “When I joined the Church a little less than a year ago, my father told me to get out of his home and never come back. And I’ve never been back.”

    He continued, “A few months later the cricket club of which I was a member read me off its list, barring me from membership with the boys with whom I had grown up and with whom I had been so close and friendly.”

    Then he said, “Last month my boss fired me because I was a member of this church, and I have been unable to get another job and I have had to go on the dole.

    “And last night the girl with whom I have gone for a year and a half said she would never marry me because I’m a Mormon.”

    I said, “If this has cost you so much, why don’t you leave the Church and go back to your father’s home and to your cricket club and to the job that meant so much to you and to the girl you think you love?”

    He said nothing for what seemed to be a long time. Then, putting his head down in his hands, he sobbed and sobbed. Finally, he looked up through his tears and said, “I couldn’t do that. I know this is true, and if it were to cost me my life, I could never give it up.”

  7. Pingback: The Cultural Hall Podcast – Mormon News Report, 12-June-2014

  8. I remember reading an account by Harold B Lee who was counseling with a professor struggling with our faith (It is in the manual we used in RS/Priesthood some years ago). The challenge was made to re-read and study the Book of Mormon, which had not been done for some time. Many months later, to the delight of Elder Lee, the professor reported a renewed faith and even the ability to counsel students who were struggling. The phrase stated by the gentleman was “I’ve become a member of the Church all over again.”
    These folks who are on a trajectory of apostasy are being challenged to do the same. And it is so much better if it can be done before excommunication becomes necessary.

  9. Belonging to a church you don’t believe in that teaches that salvation only can be found within its walls hinders both the individual and the organization. As someone else said above, these are people who have been excommunicated in their hearts and seek to take other with them. If they were quiet members who had private struggles then this would be good advice for those working with them. Rather, these are people who with concerted effort are trying to usurp the authority of Prophets, Apostles, Stake Presidents and Bishops in the name of secular liberal ideology.

    When we are warned, it is our duty to warn our neighbor – and not just for those outside the Church. The New Testament is filled with instances where the members, not just the leadership, were chastised by not doing the duty of casting off sinful and spiritually dangerous individuals. In fact, they were doing the opposite; enabling them. Like the example of Hinkley above, all we are doing in the process is asking them to decide whose side they are on when their words and actions put that into question. If they are on the Church’s side, then why are they so vehemently going against the Priesthood councils and leadership who, according to the doctrine, are called of God as His representatives on Earth? These aren’t simple disagreements of personality they have, but fundamental differences.

  10. I read from the end of the chapter in John 6 that Jesus taught of some ideas that did not please the disciples, and many of them abandoned him. He asked his apostles, “Will you also go away?” I submit the same question to those who choose other paths today, for whatever reason. Peter replied to Jesus, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.”

  11. In case it wasn’t already abundantly clear, I am not saying in this post that we shouldn’t tell people that the doctrines they are teaching are false and that if they persist in them it will lead them out of the church. And this post was not meant in any way to suggest that the church’s disciplinary actions toward apostates are wrong– I support them completely.

    But I do think that our warnings should be intended to invite those in apostasy to change and stay. If they choose to leave or be excommunicated rather than repent, then so be it. But we should at least be encouraging them to repent rather than take that route.

  12. I agree that asking “Why don’t you pack your bags and leave?” is a crude way of calling someone to repentance. I hope, in my comments here and in other venues, I haven’t actually written that. But I think for most people, it’s a rhetorical question meant to get the person to contemplate where they are in their “faith journey” or faith transition or whatever it is they call it these days. I personally don’t believe the church has ever been “big tent” in the sense that so many want to define it. Sure, you can believe all sorts of things. But if you can read through the Gospel Principles manual and not agree 100% with the principles contained therein, there’s a problem with your testimony. You don’t have to leave the church because of that. You can question things, and in fact are encouraged to study them out, ponder, pray, etc. All of us have things that we don’t understand fully. But when your questioning leads you to mock, attack and denigrate your fellow saints and leaders, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that you’ll eventually be invited to leave the organization vis-a-vis church discipline. I’m a convert. When I joined the church, I never once looked back, never have gone to old church websites and criticized doctrine or people or leaders. Why would I? It would be the height of rudeness, disrespect and un-Christlike behavior. So, I am at a bit of a loss to understand why those who have a bone to pick with the church spend so much time and energy doing just that.

  13. I think part of the answer, Idiat, lies in the fact that we, at least in the Church, are not on neutral ground. We are engaged in a war of right vs. wrong, good vs. evil, salvation vs. damnation which began in the pre-existence.

    “The ancient ministry of Christ faced betrayal from within, and it was so also in the early days of this modern dispensation. A revealing conversation once occurred between Joseph Smith and a brother named Isaac Behunnin. He had seen men involved in the quorums and in the high spiritual experiences of the kingdom who had subsequently become disaffected, and it was a mystery to him why they had then devoted their zeal and energy to attacking the Church. He said to the Prophet: ‘If I should leave this Church I would not do as those men have done. I would go to some remote place where Mormonism had never been heard of, settle down, and no one would ever learn that I knew anything about it.’

    The Prophet immediately responded: ‘Brother Behunnin, you don’t know what you would do. No doubt these men once thought as you do. Before you joined this Church you stood on neutral ground. When the gospel was preached, good and evil were set before you. You could choose either or neither. There were two opposite masters inviting you to serve them. When you joined this Church you enlisted to serve God. When you did that you left the neutral ground, and you never can get back on to it. Should you forsake the Master you enlisted to serve it will be by the instigation of the evil one, and you will follow his dictation and be his servant.’ Happily, Brother Behunnin was faithful to his death…

    Up until the Nauvoo era everyone of the Prophet’s own counselors, with the sole exception of his brother Hyrum, either betrayed him, went astray, faltered, or failed in some way. Some, [it is] glorious to report, found their way back. Orson Hyde… one of the Twelve, under oath endorsed terrible things said against the Church and the Prophet, of which he later repented… But many remained bitter in their opposition to the end.” (“Joseph Smith, the Prophet” by Truman Madsen, p. 52-53).

  14. I wondering if there isn’t some nuance around this possible.

    Clearly a blanket public statement telling someone “you should leave the church” is always bad.

    But I once did privately chat with a lady who is a dear friend of mine and asked her why, if she felt the way she did, she didn’t leave and find a religion that worked better for her. This allowed her an opportunity to frankly explain to me what she did believe about the Church in a very non-dodgy way and allowed me to figure out how to really best help her.

    I think there is a point of reflection here that might sometimes be pertinent. Getting a person to ask themselves why they, if they don’t believe in the Church, have become an activist in favor of its teachings is a question worthy of some relection. And getting a person to ask themselves why, if they do believe in the Church, they disbelieve some portion of its teachings is also a question worthy of some reflection. There should be a way to discuss this without implying you actually want the person to leave the Church.

  15. I do not feel that these three individuals invited me to leave the church. In fact, John Dehlin’s essay to disaffected members made it possible for me to stay. I do feel the church would love it if I left the church. So if I feel invited to leave by anybody, it’s the brethren.

  16. I think the test of this course will be if, following whatever disciplinary decisions, the body of the church feels repaired or intimidated. Then we will know the wisdom, compassion and justice of the leaders.

  17. “So if I feel invited to leave by anybody, it’s the brethren.”

    Annegb, this is an interesting statement. The Brethren spend several days twice a year at Conference trying to get you to stay. They write in the Ensign and travel around the world visiting wards and stakes trying to get people to stay. I understand we are dealing with feelings here, and feelings are often difficult to reconcile with facts, but wouldn’t you agree that their actual *actions* are intended to get you to stay at church, rather than leave?

  18. “I do feel the church would love it if I left the church. So if I feel invited to leave by anybody, it’s the brethren.”

    I am sorry you feel that way, annegb. I don’t believe the Church would love it if you leave, any more than the Savior would love it if you did. That is neither charitable nor Christ-like. The Church’s mission is to provide salvation to all of God’s children by coming to Christ. Neither would the Brethren love it if you did. Alma, for instance, was “grieved” for the hardness of Korihor’s heart, and he did not revel in it. The individuals were invited to repent many times, and if they are willing to do so, it will become apparent in a disciplinary council, but if not, there will be consequences. Has nothing to do with reparation nor intimidation, according to Alice. I, for one, hope that JD and KK can stay and change.

  19. I have had the thought “why don’t you leave then?” go through my mind a number of times, but have thought better of it before actually writing or saying it. However, it is difficult at times for me to understand why someone seems to feel such a connection to our church when that person seems to be constantly complaining about the church, the Brethren, policies, etc, and seems defensive if ever I suggested a possible reason for such things that wasn’t sexist, oppressive, etc. I have definitely seen cultural and personal issues that need to be adjusted, and I truly believe as a church, we are moving in the right direction. There are things that I know I don’t fully understand from our church’s history, and I am slowly studying and having faith that when the time is right, I will understand. And, slowly, some answers are coming and I am grateful when I see how truths that formerly seemed incompatible, seem to be both in the realm of possibility now.
    I can totally understand that there are questions, confusion, and perhaps doubt. What is difficult for me, is when it appears that the individual with questions or doubt doesn’t seem to be looking for a possibility for these incompatibilities to be compatible, but rather looking for an opportunity to disparage the church or it’s leaders and then saying or insinuating that I am prejudiced or oppressive if I merely suggest another possibility. When the motive seems to be no longer to understand, but to disparage, is it wrong to wonder why such an individual feels such a desire to be a part of something that they seem interested in tearing down?
    I am not trying to argue with anyone, I am just truly interested in the answer. I do want to understand.

  20. annegb, of course they want you to stay. However, they want you to stay under the Lord’s and the Church’s terms, and not KK or Dehlin’s. Are either of them a duly authorized leader of the Church? If what they say is opposite of what the true Servants of the Lord are saying, then who are you actually following? Think about that for a moment.

  21. Annegb
    I hope none if us feel as if we are happy if someone leaves the church. For me, it is so sad. I don’t feel like someone should leave because they are uncomfortable with something/someone in the church, don’t understand, or doubtful. I believe a majority of church members have fit into at least one of these categories at least once. I am not sure what your struggles or problems are concerning the church, but for me, I still fit into one or more of those categories. I have been grateful to find places in the bloggernacle where there are others with similar questions and concerns who have been helpful in my journey to reconcile truth. I know that for me, sometimes I have just followed the direction of my leaders with the faith that I would be blessed if I did that as my duty, and any mistake that leader was possibly making concerning his/her leadership was between that leader and The Lord. Brigham Young said something to that effect when he didn’t quite agree with something Joseph Smith did, but he supported him as the prophet nonetheless and was blessed for doing so. This has helped me a number of times.
    Annegb, I hope you will be able to give it some time and have some things come together for you.

  22. I left the church for 20 long years, mocked the church, spun on my heel whenever I saw a missionary and told my family they were all fools. During those two decades, I searched for the truth in many other religions of the world AND other Christian churches. I found goodness in many of them however, I never felt “fed”. I compare those years to, having once feasted upon the gospel I was eating stale, tasteless, crackers. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was STARVING my spirit and only fattening my ego. For this rebellious spirit, leaving the church was a necessary testimony builder. Having “been there” “done that”, I would never encourage anyone to EVER leave the church and embark on that difficult, dangerous, rocky path but I would never try to “force” them to stay. These siblings of ours that stray will find there is NOTHING out there that compares and they will never truly feel the peace and happiness that comes with being a member of Christ’s church. As I did, they will grow in anger, confusion, restlessness, self pity, resentment, failure and discontent. Their life will fall apart without the spirit to guide them and they won’t even understand why. It is heart wrenching to witness. I am watching one of my best friends struggle with this right now. As Jesus prayed for all of his disciples, even those who were filled with doubt and scorn, my family prayed incessantly for me, never judged me, never pushed me, never scorned me and never guilt tripped me. Their love for me never faltered, they quietly prayed for me. The power of their prayers and the UNCONDITIONAL love of our Savior is what eventually led me back home. We must earnestly and continually pray for those that are weak and/or doubting, share our testimonies with them, be our best example of happiness and integrity and continue to love them unconditionally.

  23. The threat to leave the Church, oft repeated, comes to feel manipulative and resented.

  24. I hear what you are saying, John Mansfield. What I am about to say will likely be perceived as extremely controversial in some circles:

    The threats to leave the church and the accusations that the views of others are driving them out of the church are analogous to the person who manipulatively threatens suicide if they don’t get their way.

    They are using the threat of spiritual suicide to try to get their way because they know that staying in the church matters to those who believe.

    Just because the pain is real, doesn’t mean the threat of spiritual suicide is not manipulative, even if it is made in all seriousness.

    Just because the pain is legitimate, does not mean the proposed remedy is correct.

    By saying this I do not mean to minimize the seriousness of the tragic issue of suicide. Only to illustrate the impossible position such threats put others into.

  25. I’m not as disaffected as all that but the last 8 years have been really hard and while I never questioned the truthfulness of the gospel, I lost faith in my local leaders. John’s essay to the disaffected is valuable, in my opinion. I’ve griped at him the last few years and we aren’t the friends we used to be, which saddens me. I’ve heard and agreed with some of the criticisms of him and the OW movement.

    But I chafe at the exclusiveness I live with on a daily basis and the escalating class divisions within the church (to me, this is more important and more alienating than gender, or sexual preference). Because I grew up as the daughter of the town trash, I cannot leave people out. It is a particular skill of mine and an annoyance to many. There’s an “in crowd” in our organization (as opposed to our religious practice) and it’s based on status and wealth.

    So, while I feel very loved in the bloggernacle—and thank God for it, you guys—I don’t feel welcome in the church. Generally. I have many friends and am seldom lonely if I do feel alone. I’m not even an intellectual! But I have fallen so short of the Mormon ideal that I struggle to feel worthy of even every-day fellowship. We gauge and keep score and compete. I know others feel left out and this move says “there is no room in the inn for the imperfect” far more than it says “you went too far.”

    It feels like rejection. I appreciate the tone of this blog because I get tired of the fault finding and wish my purpose were as pure as it once was. But I cannot ignore my own experiences, although they have little in common with those if John and Katy.

    I realize I have to take this in context, realizing all that can affect this place I find myself in, but I would be much more comforted with a conciliatory effort on the part of authority. If we all could just get along.

    Were I given an ultimatum to stop blogging, I’d probably obey. But I would truly die inside.

    Oh hell, who knows, I might blossom.

  26. Annegb, it sounds like your problem is with your local leaders, not the Brethren. I feel for you — you are definitely not the only one who has such concerns. I have a very good friend with whom I served on the High Council who was the member of what sounds like the worst ward in the world for several years until he thankfully moved. The stories he tells would curl your toes. But he says that he kept on reminding himself that the people he was dealing with were human and flawed but that the Church was still true.

    We love you Annegb. I don’t think there is any reason for you to stop blogging, and in fact the Brethren have asked people to continue to use social media to help the Church grow. The issue for yourself should be: is my use of social media bringing me down and lessening my testimony rather than increasing it?

  27. h_nu, I agree. JMW’s post is completely correct, much needed, and has familiar application away from the current public dramas. Caring more about someone else’s spiritual well-being than that person does is a common state for a disciple to be in, and humbling, at times humiliating, as duty and love compel us to keep offering in the face of rejection.

  28. Geoff B: annegb is in southern Utah. They seem to have their own unique culture there.

    Church culture does vary greatly from ward to ward, even within the same stake. I’ve noted classism (which seems to be annegb’s main bugaboo at this point) in some members of my stake. Or, at least it _appears_ to be classism, it may be something else.

    To be generous, most people just don’t know how to interract across certain boundaries, whatever those boundaries, dimensions or axes (plural of axis?) might be: social class, education, wealth, intelligence, level of church activity, mental health issues, physical health issues, etc.

    Back when I got disaffected from the church, one of my concerns was being treated by married members as a second class member because I was single. Another concern was toxic members, people who, mostly unknowingly, tried to infect you with their mental/emotional poison, “drama llamas” they are sometimes called.

    Even since I came back, I’ve noted some toxicity among the over-30 singles, and further discovered my own high level of toxicity. Well…. that’s the reason that most singles are still single, there are things that rule people out of being considered as spouse material by most well-adjusted folks. (Of course, sisters have an “out” because there are not enough worthy guys to go around, but that’s not to say that toxicity doesn’t exist among many single sisters, either.)

    Our previous stake president went around to the wards calling people to repentance for not being friendly enough to move-ins and new members. Our ward was particularly called out when he talked at our sacrament meeting. Even though I hold no callings, I had seen the dynamics (or lack of dynamcis) of what he was referring to in our ward just by coming to sacrament early sitting in the back, and people-watching.

    People expect the bishopric to go around greeting new people, but when old-member-move-ins and converts don’t make any friends, and no one beside the bishopric greet them, they notice it.

    I am ashamed of my inaction in a couple instances. I thought of befriending a teenager convert, and a 20-something convert couple with two small kids, and didn’t act because I thought it would “look bad” for a creepy (Asperger-ish) old never-married ex-member to “buddy up” to people young enough to be his kids. Well, after I noticed they were missing for a couple months in a row, it turned out the young couple was tripped up by anti-mormons, and requested “no contact”. The 18 year old still lived in the ward, but I don’t know his story.

    I wonder if the young couple had had a friend in the ward they could have taken concerns to. Someone who wasn’t in a leadership position, who they feared would think less of them for doubting. But someone they trusted enough from whom they could learn some of the lies and tricks that antis use.

    So I’ve resolved not to be so silent. When I saw a new-move-in kid sitting by himself in priesthood opening exercises, and the youth and the YM leaders did nothing, I went over to a couple of the deacons/teachers and suggested they go over and make him feel welcome, which they did.

    Our ward doesn’t do well on HT and VT. And since most HT/VT visits are perfunctory and they are “assigned friends”, I think that is why Pres Hinckley said converts need a calling and a _friend_, not a calling and a home-teacher. The HT is a given, that should go without saying. The friend is supposed to be someone _in addition to_ the home-teacher, no?

    So now, regardless of age, marital status, or sex, I’m going to make the effort to greet and talk to people if I see that others aren’t.

  29. So much pride. We all have it no doubt, and clearly it rears it’s head on various issues for each of us. I’ve come to see that the “trigger” for some peoples pride is the church. Pointing it out doesn’t help because then you’re just self righteous and arrogant. No, I’ve got issues too, but it doesn’t stop me from seeing that so many people presume they have the answers while professing that other leaders in the church are making mistakes.

    We like to talk a lot about discipleship, but when it comes to dealing with issues we think we know the truth on some don’t act like disciples. The Lord was accused and frequently kept is mouth shut. The Lord saw injustice and didn’t seek to change laws, add quotas, invent programs, etc. he sought to change hearts through the virtue of his character, love and service. Why can’t people who presume to know better just live their lives like The Lord wants them to, as he showed us. Go through life helping others, learning, teaching, having faith you’ll realize an eternal purpose and blessing at the end.

    All this talk of leaving or changing programs, ordaining women, being more intellectual friendly, etc. The whole purpose is to provide the ordinances, and teach the principles, and then act. So many people are gathering around saying physician heal thyself when they should simply be acting on what they know and living their lives as Christlike as possible. It’s such a drain of energy to spend time in the weeds on these side issues.

    Some who just can’t stand the fact that I’m telling them they’re wrong will necessarily reply, completely missing and proving the point. Others will say, I’m the pot calling the kettle. None of that’s the point in these petty internet dialogues…

  30. annegb, I have had only a handful of real life close friends (my wife one of them and she has many of the same social problems as myself), and its not because I am the kind of person accused of online. My personality is the classic geek outsider no matter what group I find myself in. What I have discovered in the process is that the only person that matters in my life is God, and therefore the Church since this is His. Nothing else in life matters except as it touches on these. For that reason I go to Church, read the Scriptures, attend the Temple, and no matter how much I disagree with a person in ecclesiastical authority will never say anything against them as duly and rightfully ordained Servants.

    If I understand you correctly, my advice would be to re-read the story of King David and Saul. No matter how many times Saul tried to kill David. he would not retaliate because Saul was still anointed. God alone had the right to deal with Saul, and eventually (with the sadness of David) he was destroyed by his own hand.

  31. Well, really I must admit I’m a handful for even the most patient leader. Also, I love most of the members of my ward, despite (or because of) their flaws. I’ve been here 35 years.

    Also, I interpret many of my experiences through the lens of my once-troubled marriage which is too complicated to go into here. We’re different now. I went to a self pity party last night but I’m getting over it. I’m not a victim.

    The book “Why I Stay” was a revelation to me and expresses my own conclusions regarding the church. I recommend it.

    Jettboy, that saddens me.

    I still don’t think excommunication is the answer although it doesn’t seem like a compromise can be reached. I don’t see why we can’t just look at John as our weird uncle or something—church wise, I mean. The one who bugs you but is still blood of our blood.

    Alan Waterman’s situation is different. I think his blog post about mission presidents getting paid but not paying tithing was the camels back breaking straw. I’m glad he did it though. I hate the secrecy.

  32. It isn’t very often I agree with J. Max on anything, but I think he has a very good point. For those who have been on the receiving end of “invitations” to leave the church, it can be quite painful. If it turns out this is the true church and the only one authorized to deliver salvation through legitimate priesthood ordinances, then for all practical purposes, what you’re telling those folks is to go to hell.

    One commenter brought up a current policy that I find troubling. The reasons for someone not resigning their membership are often complex and only really understood by that individual. In my case, resigning my membership would hurt a lot of people I care about very deeply in exchange for little or no personal benefit. It would threaten my marriage and most likely cause certain family members to shut me out of their lives completely. I have no interest at all in returning to activity. I’m happy where I’m at, I’m completely silent about my faith journey to anyone I know IRL, and I’m more than happy with my loved ones’ and others’ continued participation in the church. All I want is to be left alone. No newsletters, no texts, no once-yearly visits. Why is that so hard?

  33. Steve, when a member says maybe you should find a different path, it is because they too want to be left alone. The Mormonism they hold dear is to them attacked, the leadership they feel called of God threatened with an illegitimate coup, fundamental beliefs that are near non-negotiable on the verge of negation, and basically the feeling that wolves are out to get the sheep (and succeeding). Non-activity isn’t the issue, and in fact the very opposite. The “invitation,” no matter what J. Max’s point might be, is that person is already on the road to hell and we would kindly not like them to take others with them.

  34. I’ve had a few friends leave the church this past year, including an in-law and a couple of men who’d been members of one of my previous EQ. Good people, but they had doubts. People who brought some of President Uchtdorf’s much-needed diversity to the church, and when they left, the church, or at the very least their local wards, became weaker.

    So I appreciate this post. We shouldn’t be encouraging people with doubts to leave. We should be encouraging them to stay. It may take time, but if we have patience and treat them with respect, friendship, and love, they may stick around, and their doubts may eventually be overcome by their faith.

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