Deny the Truth and Soldier On Saint!
“I had doubts for years, but I did not want to disappoint my family”
“I gave up believing a long time ago but I love what the church stands for.”
“I wanted to leave and stop pretending but I had too much to lose”
“When I got high enough in the church, I thought they would have answers but they told me they did not believe either – just keep marching on or you will lose everything.”
“Don’t say anything about Joseph Smith – even if it is true I don’t want to hear it”
-real quotes from former Mormons.
I enjoy talking with those of the Mormon faith. My heart aches for them as they try to work out their own version of faith and think it is for the Lord. I love talking with them about the Jesus of the Bible. He is so different from the version put out by the Mormon faith. Their “Jesus” in truth is entirely filtered through the writings of Joseph Smith. He looks nothing like Jesus of the Bible.
The question that comes up when dealing with Joseph Smith’s faith is “Why do they seem so together?” Christian denominations have many different beliefs. We are arguing about things all the time. There are high profile falls from grace in the Christian community regularly. So why do the Mormons seem so happy and shiney.
The short answer is they are forced to. This is their cultural experience and expectation. There is a huge bill to pay for departing from the burdens of this works based faith. Sadly, many men and women are unwilling to pay it.
It doesn’t Matter if it is True
I was discussing faith with two Mormon missionaries one day when I noticed something interesting. One of them had no interest at all in the discussion. He did not care what I said, no shock there, as they are trained to do so. The surprising thing was he also had no interest in Mormon doctrine or history. It is not that he did not know about the contradictions or the ugly history of the Mormon church. This also is normal. Rather, he did not know his own faith. He did not seem to care at all about Joseph Smith or the doctrine of Brigham Young. This young man was only there because it was required. He did not care whether it was true. His family and friends were all Mormon. So were his neighbors, co-workers and likely his future employers. He was going to follow in his families footsteps and check all the boxes necessary to do so. The truth of the claims of Joseph Smith simply did not matter to him. He marched on regardless of truth.
I was shocked at the time. What I have discovered since then is just how common this attitude is – it is even evidently joked about in the Broadway play about the Mormon Church.
Built on Conformity
The Mormon Church can appear like a solid monolith of belief. They have their cadre of missionaries with their starched shirts. Their families are uniformly large, clean cut and well mannered. Their temples are always clean and ornate. It can seem like a stable contrast to every day life. Yet, upon closer examination it seems to be far from that. It is filled with swallowed questions and hushed disbelief. The clean exterior is won by pressure, fear, and excommunication. It is built on the freedom of the very people it uses to try to appeal to the world. It is the way of the Pharisees, white and sparkling on the outside but filled with death.
A False Prophet Revealed
The free availability of information on internet soundly destroys the historical basis for the Mormon Church. The claims of Joseph Smith fall apart under close examination.
The contradictions in the faith are on display for the world to see. There are many within the Mormon faith questioning things they had previously taken for granted as a result. The fact that one of their major holy books, the Book of Abraham, is clearly based on lies does that to a person. Mormons are testing the narratives they have been told to cling to their whole lives and finding them empty, hollow and false.
The strange thing is the response. There is an unprecedented exodus from the Mormon faith, yes, but many are unmoved. It is not that they don’t see the problem. They simply are unwilling to leave the familiar. There is a large number of the Mormon faith who having discovered the glaring flaws but don’t do anything about it…they just decide to soldier on. They don’t have truth. They no longer hope the Mormon Church stands for truth. They understand they were lied to. But they refuse to leave. They are too attached to the trappings of the faith to let go. They trudge on with a smile plastered on their face as they wither away inside. It is incredibly sad.
The cultural cost of leaving is also terrible. Those who admit the obvious truth are immediately cut off…from their family, friends, community, and often jobs and business. Their whole life was the church and the church guarantees they will lose it if they leave. It is a classic control tactic. They decide to stay quiet and gut it out for reasons that have nothing to do with God. This appeared to be the motivation of the young man I spoke with. Mormonism is so totally his identity, he did not care if Joseph Smith made it all up.
Others have told me the structure of the church is good for their family though they know it is false. Some argue the church does good things in the community, so why should they leave? Others are afraid of departing the protective envelope of the church or losing business contacts. They live with an eternal compromise rather than make a change. One father recently admitted that he had not believed for the past 40 years. Yet, he raised 7 kids in the Mormon Church and encouraged his many grandkids to be raised the same. He did not want to lose that family connection that the church so emphasizes. He was miserable and his faith was based upon lies, but the kids did not know that! They seemed so happy. One of his sons came to the same conclusion about Joseph Smith and became a Christian. This same unbelieving father tried to talk his son back to the church. He then excommunicated his son and banned him from further family interactions. All due to a faith he did not believe in. The cost of cutting off the son was less than the cost of admitting what he knew was true and cutting off the church.
Empty Obedience Leads to Death
As one former Mormon put it, “Everyone knows that the Book of Abraham is obviously false, but the overall message of the books was good. I was so far in by that point I had too much to lose.”
Another stated, “I kept expecting the next group of peers that I became part of in the church to be different from my current one, to have answers to the huge doubts I had. Each time I would get to the next level, they would just say wait, it will be better when you reach the next point. Finally, I reached a leadership position where I thought all the secrets were kept and they would finally have the answers. There everyone just agreed that there were no answers and it wasn’t true but we needed to keep that to ourselves so that we wouldn’t hurt those around us.”
The perpetual process seems to be “Keep smiling and pretending so that others who are smiling and pretending don’t stop smiling and pretending.” Familial, cultural and economic ties are so strong that people are left not caring what the truth is – God or no God, he was going to be a Mormon and did not want to hear it.
I don’t want to know. I don’t want to hear it. Don’t tell anyone. Don’t talk with anyone about your doubts. Hide those questions. Avoid anything negative about Joseph Smith. Don’t question, don’t ask, just keep going and pretend you don’t have doubts.
This pattern is just not from God. The real Jesus is never in that sort of faith! It was for freedom Jesus died for you. It is never about conformity. The way of the Pharisees led to death.
Was Jesus afraid of questions? Did He have anything that could not withstand scrutiny?
I think you know the answer to this question.
Jesus is not afraid of questions. Jesus wants you to be honest and dig into your doubts and fears. He gets everything out in the light and begs you to work through it with Him. Jesus says you should “ask, seek, and knock”. He never says to lie, pretend, and avoid.
Jesus understands and is more than big enough to answer every single doubt we have with Himself – The Way, the Truth and the Life. He just says come, bring it to me and I will answer. He will give the doubting, the pretending, the miserable and the lost rest, true rest like Joseph Smith’s false messiah never offers.
Do you have Jesus’ rest today?