When I was 32 months old my family was involved in a horrendous auto accident. My mother was killed. My father, my brother and I survived this accident. This happened on my younger brother’s first birthday. It was very difficult for my father as he was then left with two little boys to take care of alone. He moved in with his parents and leaned on them for emotional support for the next few years.
About three years after the tragedy, Dad met a nice lady through a mutual friend and very soon proposed marriage to her. She accepted and they drove to Arizona and were married one weekend. When they returned from Arizona, we continued to live with my grandparents for about two years until we were able to construct a home of our own. We then became a family and my brother and I were very comfortable with our new mother because she was really the only mother we could remember as we were growing up.
My dad had very little religious convictions, having been brought up with a nominal Christian background in the Methodist Church back in a farming community of the mid-west. My stepmother on the other hand was raised in the Mormon Church on the Navaho reservation in New Mexico before moving to the Los Angeles, CA area. Her parents were of Mormon pioneer stock, both having a long line of Mormon heritage, which they and she were very proud of. Her sister was married to the Stake President in our area and all of her family was active in the LDS Church. Most of my cousins were also active Mormons.
As my step-mom took on the task of raising us two small boys, she felt compelled to provide us with religious training that I later realized was out of a sense of duty rather than one of conviction. She and my dad only attended the Mormon Church a few times during the years that we were being raised Mormon. I believe my dad was neutral when it came to religious matters, but my step-mom felt a sense of duty to raise my brother and me in Mormonism. She was a wonderful mom and I will always consider her “Mother” because she was all I ever knew. I never had the feeling that we were not her children. She was a strong disciplinarian but always with love.
My brother and I were baptized at age eight, grew up attending Primary activities, received the Aaronic Priesthood at age twelve, were active in the LDS Boy Scout troop where I achieved Star Scout, attended the Mutual Improvement Association (MIA) and received the Melchizedek Priesthood at age eighteen. We were indoctrinated into the LDS worldview and actually felt very proud of the fact that we were “different” from the world around us. I believe that this training, especially the teachings of the “Word of Wisdom” were very instrumental in keeping us away from strong and negative influences during our high school years. So many of our peers in school were having all sorts of involvement with tobacco and alcohol, but we were spared involvement in these habits because we had developed the convictions of the Mormon Word of Wisdom.
When I graduated high school, I went directly to work and had no thought of attending college. Though I was of missionary age, I did not consider becoming a missionary for the Church mostly because of not having strong support or encouragement at home, plus our financial position was not that great.
Two years later I was married in the Saint George Temple to a high school girl friend who had converted to Mormonism. We attempted to live as faithful Mormons. I served in various capacities including Sunday school leadership and as a Stake Missionary. Two children came along and we were soon able to be in our own home.
As time passed, my wife and I began to question what we were being taught in the Church and were not honestly able to join the many who would bear their “testimony” by saying they “knew Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and that the Book of Mormon was true.” We began asking questions about some of the beliefs we were taught, especially the notion that we could become “Gods” some day if we were faithful. We were always told to pray about it and that God would give us peace and a testimony.
Several years passed and we struggled in our marriage that eventually ended in divorce. My wife, a former Catholic, was a convert to Mormonism while in high school and I don’t believe she had truly accepted it all. We had many turbulent times discussing various teachings that seemed, to her, too bazaar to be true. It was her questioning that started me also to question. After the divorce, I felt that everything in my life was going bad. I continued to question the Mormon teachings but still could not get satisfactory answers. Inconsistencies such as the following bothered me:
Joseph Smith’s claims concerning the gold plates and the numerous changes made to the Book of Mormon that he called “the most correct book”
The notion that mere humans could one day become a “god” and the teaching that there are a multitude of “gods” ruling many planets
The idea that polygamy was God’s eternal, Celestial plan, but that His eternal plan is now abandoned here on earth
The historical teachings of previous Mormon Prophets that later Prophets denied and contradicted
These are but a few of the many questions that I struggled with. I also began to see that the LDS Church does not reveal the true history of its early days. I would at times even go back to my stepmother with my questions, but she was very vague in her answers and so I was not confident in how she would respond. She actually tried to avoid my inquiries at times, and I then knew she had little knowledge or conviction concerning LDS teachings. It was a religion for her but not an honest belief. Over time, she too would even criticize some of the practices of the Church.
Still having many questions, I floundered for a while and left most of my religious searching. Some years later, I did remarry and we established a new home with my new wife’s two children and my two who would come over on a visitation basis. Moving to a new neighborhood, we met a Christian family that lived next door. They invited us to a weekly Bible study they held in their home and we accepted. My spiritual journey had been put on hold for a while, but I thought I might find some help at this Bible study to sort out all the questions that were going through my head concerning God and “religion” in general.
One evening while at this Bible study, we were studying in the Gospel of Mark. I cannot remember specifically what we were discussing, but the subject of Mormonism came up. One of the ladies there made the statement, “Mormons are not Christians.” I was taken back by her seemingly strong conviction of what she was saying, but remained quiet as I had not revealed my LDS background and I just stewed with resentment within. When we went home, my wife and I had a long discussion and I only became more confused. I made a resolve to prove the statement I had heard at this Bible study to be false and set out on a study of my own.
My wife and I and our children, at this time, also started attending a Christian church and I now began to see more of what Christianity was really all about. I grew up with the understanding that the Bible was not really trustworthy in many areas, as stated in the Mormon’s Eighth Article of Faith. I believed one could not base their total beliefs on the Bible or trust it alone, but one needed the wisdom of modern day Prophets to guide one’s thinking and search for God and the Gospel. At Church and in this Bible study, I was learning differently. These people had conviction about the Bible and were demonstrating peace in these convictions. This was something I wanted so I listened closely to how they believed and explained the Bible Scriptures. Until that evening when the lady made the shocking statement, I was beginning to see the differences in what I had grown up believing but because I was not of the “same faith” as these neighbors, I did consider myself a Christian.
Over the next several months, I delved into Biblical Scripture, did a lot of praying, asking God to show me the truth, but I became more confused. Fortunately, Larry who was an elder in the church we were attending, was willing to come to our home and explain the Gospel to me. Through his teachings, God showed me that I was a sinner. This was something I had never heard from my LDS teachers. I began to see that I was lost and was destined for destruction and Hell because of the wrong (sin) in my life. I needed a Savior! I began to see that I was not on my way to becoming a “God,” but was on my way to Hell and Eternal Torment. I soon began to see how God loved me and provided a way for me to be saved from this ultimate destruction. Larry pointed out that my sins were nailed to the cross on Calvary as Colossians 2:13-14 teaches:
“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” **
I also was getting answers to my many questions that I could never get from my LDS teachers. I found that there were solid, believable answers to life’s deep questions. I could see that I did not have to trust in what a so-called Prophet was teaching, and soon realized that God had provided His Word, the Bible, for a guide for life. The Bible was telling me in the book of Isaiah that there was but one God, not many, and that He was always God from eternity to eternity. Isaiah also says that all my good works, which I was taught to rely upon, are but filthy rags as far as earning God’s approval. I could also see that Jesus Christ was the Lamb of God and had come to earth to give His life as a sacrifice on my behalf. I soon was convicted of my sinful ways and confessed my sin and accepted and invited Jesus Christ into my life as Lord and Savior and at that moment I received God’s gift of eternal life.
I came to see that I had not been a “Christian” in the Biblical sense because I was attempting to follow a man, Joseph Smith (and subsequent prophets) instead of Jesus Christ. I was actually a “Smithite” rather than a Christian. Just because the name Jesus Christ is in the name of the LDS Church does not make Mormons Christians! I found that a Christian is one who follows and trusts Jesus Christ for their life and eternity. I no longer was trapped in a system that taught I must work hard every day and hope I was doing enough to please God and would someday receive a reward. I now knew that by trusting in Jesus I was secure for eternity not because of what I might do but because of what He did for me. I now was secure for eternity and free to love God and serve Him with gratitude because He first loved me and gave Himself for my sin. I finally found the peace I had been searching for so long.
In recent years I have been involved in an Internet mentoring program for men who have questions about their involvement in Mormonism and are seeking truth. It is my desire to share the peace I have now and help others to also find peace by trusting in Jesus. Through all of this time of learning for me, my wife also re-kindled her Christian faith and we both had a new beginning. Having raised our family, we are now enjoying being grandparents and retired. We have been active in the local church for many years. I have served in various responsibilities as usher, deacon, elder and missions chairman. I consider Psalm 40 my life scripture as “my feet are now on the solid Rock.”
For His Glory,
** Quoted from the King James Bible Version
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