Bonnie – Ex-Mormon

bonnieBONNIE

My journey into Mormonism began when I was very young… I grew up in Protestant churches – Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian, to be specific.  Although we were in church every Sunday, I don’t remember really being taught God’s word by anyone at any church.  I also was not getting any teaching at home…. In fact, although my parents were staunch “church goers”, I don’t recall them ever using God’s word to guide me in any way whatsoever.  As a result, when I got to my senior year in college and started feeling a need to understand God, I didn’t have any foundation to draw on.  When I finally became desperate for answers, I made appointments with five Protestant pastors and one Catholic priest in hopes of getting answers, but not one of those men opened a Bible in my presence and said anything like, ”This is what God’s Word tells us.”

So it’s no wonder that when I ran into some Mormon missionaries and they had instant and very confident answers (although a bit odd sounding!) to my questions, using the Bible to answer me, that I became intrigued.  Six months later, I became engaged to a young Mormon returned missionary and slid quite easily into joining his church. 

We were very active in church, and I served in a number of callings… nothing “big”.  I guess the biggest responsibilities I had were twofold:  First, I was called on frequently to speak in church because I was a good public speaker.  And second, I was gifted at organizing events, so I ended up organizing virtually every special event in our ward – either being “in charge” or assisting the person in charge.

My marriage was a wreck from the beginning… my dreams of a perfect marriage to a man who was committed to God were shattered as my “returned missionary’s” emotional problems began to surface.  Instead of the godly man I thought I’m married, he turned out to be a pathological liar, an abuser, an alcoholic and a womanizer, sleeping with over 300 women in the 8 years we were married.  I finally decided I couldn’t take it any more when I found him in bed with another woman.  I threw him out that night, and filed for divorce a few days later.  In the interim, I hid at a friend’s house in Memphis for fear of what he would do… which is exactly what he did… he got drunk, showed up at our apartment and destroyed everything.  Considering the condition of the apartment when I finally went home, it’s almost a surety that if I’d been there, he would have done just as much – if not more – damage to me.

Even so, I remained active in the church for a while, although it was uncomfortable running into him and his family every week. It was also uncomfortable being either ignored or being questioned by church members, asking me questions that I deemed none of their business. Then, when my oldest son’s Primary teacher told him that Heavenly Father did not love us anymore and that the only way He would ever love us again was if I remarried his father, I took my hysterical son and his brother home and never went back.

In spite of all of these things, I would not let go of Mormonism… I still had a strong testimony of the church.  I still wore my temple garments every day.  But, since we were in Arkansas and at that time, there was only one Ward of the church within driving distance, it was either continue to subject my sons and myself to the problems at church or stay away.  I stayed away.

Because I was away from the constant reinforcement of “Mormonthink”, I began to wonder about some things… things for which I could find no answers.  For instance, the “families are forever” concept suddenly seemed impossible to attain.  The reason was, if a family was full of devout, “worthy” Mormons, each of whom went on to godhood, it would be impossible for that family to remain together!  Every man would be off organizing and overseeing his own planet, and each woman would be with her god/husband, staying pregnant non-stop forever, producing spirit babies!  The Christian concept I ran across on a Christian television talk show was much more appealing… that everyone who believes in Jesus would end up in the same heaven, together!

Another question that came to mind was this… how could Jesus be the “God” of the Old Testament, as Mormonism claimed, using several Old Testament scriptures to prove that God had a body – when Jesus did not “obtain” His body until after the Old Testament was written?

Those are just two of the thoughts that occurred to me, leaving me puzzling over things that couldn’t be explained.  Then, a year after my divorce, the Lord arranged a “divine appointment” for me with a young man I’d known years before.  In the years since I’d last seen him, not only had he become a born again believer who was enrolled in seminary, but he was one of the rare individuals in 1977 who actually knew a lot about Mormonism.  That “divine appointment” led to his sending me a package that I received about two weeks later.  Inside were some books and pamphlets.  The book on top was Mormonism by Dr. Walter Martin. Inside, Pat had written, “To Bonnie from Pat Carraway, 8/8/77, John 8:32”.  I looked up the verse, which said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Over the next two days, I made a huge discovery… everything I’d been taught in the Mormon Church was in direct conflict with the Bible.  It had never occurred to me to read beyond the “proof texts” I’d been shown in the LDS Church… that there was a real “context” to those verses that – if I read it all – changed the meaning of virtually every one of them to the opposite of what the Mormon Church had told me they meant!

As I read more and more about Jesus, I began to realize that this Jesus I had found in the Bible only had one thing in common with the Jesus Christ I’d been told about in the Mormon Church – the name!  By the second day, I’d put aside my quad and started reading from the NIV Bible my non-LDS parents had given me for Christmas… the only other Bible I had.  I’d barely opened it in the 8 months I’d had it, but that day, I felt a need to read something that did not have Mormon footnotes and cross references.

A little after noon the second day, I ran across John 8:24 (NIV), which says, “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.”  I’d already learned in the past 24 hours who Jesus claimed to be… and He was not “a” god, or “one of the gods”, or the “first born spirit child of Heavenly Father and one of His wives”, and He definitely was not my “big brother”.  Suddenly, it hit me… If I died believing in the Jesus Christ the Mormon Church had told me about, I might as well have died believing in a fence post with “Jesus Christ” stamped on it!  I wasn’t headed for heaven, much less godhood!  And unless I did something right then, I was in deep trouble!!

But a war was going on in my head… I’d been taught that if I did what I was about to do, it was an unforgivable sin!  Even while I took off my temple garments and got dressed again, then gathered up the rest of my garments from the drawer and gathered up the Mormon books on my bed, and the Mormon pictures on the walls, that “unforgiven” thing kept running through my head.

Finally, the Holy Spirit won!  Out in my back yard, He calmed me down enough so I could light a match, and I burned that entire pile of things associated with Mormonism.

There isn’t any “one thing” that caused me to leave the LDS Church.  It was a compilation of the whole… There was one thing that hit me like a ton of bricks when I found it years later… The Church News article that quoted President Hinckley when he said that Mormons worship a “different Jesus” from the Jesus Christians worship… that confirmed what I’d found for myself way back then!

Another thing that struck me was what I found in Matthew 27:50-51, which says, And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.  At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.”  That “temple curtain” is what the KJV calls a “veil”.  God destroyed the temple veil, which was an intricately woven tapestry about six inches thick.  Two teams of oxen pulling in opposite directions could not put a wrinkle in it, but God tore it in two from top to bottom, signifying that never again would anything or anyone stand between Him and His people.  And yet, not only had the Mormon Church established a priesthood that stands between the members and God, but the church had put up a veil in each of its temples, thereby denying what Jesus had done for us on the cross. God tore the veil down, but the Mormon Church has thumbed its collective “nose” at Jesus and put the veil back up!

It was nearly a year before I learned what to call what happened to me that day… that I’d been saved, born again!  But I had a driving hunger for God’s word – convinced that if I knew what the Bible said, that I could never be deceived again.  Ten years later, God decided it was time to put me into ministry, and I began writing daily devotionals that I still write and publish today.  We have a worldwide ministry through the internet, with many, many thousands of people reading the devotionals every day.

In October, 1992, God arranged another “divine appointment” for me and brought an incredible godly man into my life… the man who is my husband, J.R.  He’s not perfect (neither am I!!), but he’s the perfect man for me!  He takes God’s word seriously, and treats me exactly the way God tells men to treat their wives.  As a result, my every day is blessed, my heart is always happy, and one of my greatest hopes is that I am the kind of wife J.R. deserves… because he deserves the best!  Together, we serve the Lord daily, hoping to bring glory to God with our efforts to bless every person we can.

J.R. and I are both ordained ministers.  We’re also Certified Christian Counselors, and spend much of our time counseling with people about God’s word and helping them put it to use in their lives.  While J.R. counsels with men in general, addressing problems they have most specifically in their marriages, I spend a lot of time mentoring women coming out of Mormonism… a long and painful process, even in the best of circumstances.  Through that mentoring, I became concerned about what I kept hearing from women… stories about their lives in Mormonism that didn’t bear any resemblance to the public relations pitch that the LDS Church tries to sell not only to the world in general, but to the Mormon women themselves.  Weighed down by the incredibly heavy burden of “performance” required by the Mormon Church, and held back by fear of losing everything they hold dear, these women remained silent for years, struggling to appear “okay” when “okay” is the furthest thing from the truth.

bonnie-bookcoverIt was this preponderance of problems that women coming out of Mormonism were reporting that led me to want not only to expose those problems for the whole world to see, but also to provide some answers for women… not only those leaving Mormonism, but also those still trapped in the deception.  It wasn’t difficult to find women who were willing to tell their stories… I received hundreds of letters and phone calls! Realizing there was no way to let all of these women participate, I selected twelve whose stories fit the specific subjects that I’d found most common, and included my own story which also fit into one of the subjects.

The resulting ebook is The Mormon Woman… Goddess or Second Class Citizen?, which is available on Smashwords.com in all ebook formats (including the Kindle, as well as PDF, for those who do not have any kind of hand-held device) at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/262104 and specifically for the Kindle on Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AIT2AWE.

Even if you think you know what life is like for a Mormon woman, I promise this book will be an eye-opener!  At the same time, I’ve also included what the Bible says about women for comparisons throughout the book, and specifically address the biblical view of women in the final chapter… “I Am Woman… What Does That Mean to Jesus?”

Whether you are a woman (or man) who is leaving (or has already left) the LDS Church… or a woman who is still LDS… or someone in ministry to Mormons or with a friend or relative who is Mormon, I encourage you to get this ebook!  Not only will the women find that you are not alone and the men find how much “LDS priesthood holder” you still have in you, but – no matter who you are – you will find answers in this book.  The most important answer you will find is Jesus, because if you have Him, He will guide you to all the other answers you need, just as He did for me.

 

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