I was born and raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My Mother was raised in this Church also, and she converted my Father before they married. They had a civil service, and then one year later they were sealed in the Los Angeles temple. I was their fourth and last natural child and then they adopted my little sister 5 years after I was born. Though I was born in California, I was raised in Salt Lake City and from my beginning, all I knew was Mormonism.
It was very important to my Mom that we live our religion and fulfill our obligations in it. This included going on missions (for the boys, at least) and having temple marriages. I had always planned on going on a mission, but when that time finally came I had lost all interest in going. I can’t really say that my testimony of Mormonism had faltered, because I still went to church and agreed with the teachings. But I just knew that I did not want to serve a mission. This, of course, created a lot of tension and displeasure when I had to explain my decision to my parents. They were extremely disappointed – my Mother probably more so than my Dad. They did their best to talk me into going, anyway. It didn’t work, but I think they held to the hope that I would change my mind at a later date. As it turned out, I never went on a mission for the Mormon Church, even though I still believed it was the true Church of Christ.
My Bishop reluctantly made me an Elder in the Church in March of 1986 – nearly one full year later than usual, because of my decision not to serve a mission. The following year, I met the gal that I wanted to marry. However, she was not a member of the Church. By this time, I had become strongly interested in going through the temple, even though I still had no desire to serve a mission. I informed this gal that I would not date her seriously unless she would convert to Mormonism, because I would not marry outside of the LDS Church. She converted in April 1988, and we became engaged. Church rules dictated that she would not be allowed to go through the temple until she had been a member for a full year, so we set our wedding date for April of 1989.
Even though my fiancé was not allowed to attend the temple yet, I still had the strong desire to go. I had to interview with both my Bishop and my Stake President, who were my ecclesiastical leaders. Both finally agreed that I was qualified for a temple recommend – a document that is required to enter a Mormon temple. I went through the Salt Lake City Temple and received my personal "endowment" on September 21, 1988.
From the very start, I could not believe that this was a serious ceremony. All the way through I felt ashamed to be there and that the ceremony and the clothing were nothing short of ridiculous. I felt humiliated by the washing and anointing ceremony. I was required for this part to be totally naked except for a "shield" worn over my head. This was basically just a very thin sheet, completely open on both sides, which hung down like a poncho. I had to walk through various temple passageways in this condition, leading into a room with 2 strangers. These men said prayers while touching my body at various points with a sponge, or with oil on their fingers. Then in another curtained room, a different stranger held my ‘sacred underwear’ while I stepped into them. After that, I was allowed to put temple clothing on and proceed through the ceremony. I was appalled, and felt ashamed, and wanted to leave. However, my whole family was there, several of my friends that had already been through the temple were there, and all the other patrons looked like they felt this was the most holy and awesome worship experience. So I kept quiet.
As the ceremony continued, I was getting more concerned. Probably noticeably so, because my Father – who was my official temple escort that day – tried to break my tension by offering me Pez candy at one point during the ceremony. It did lessen my concern, to know that my Dad understood in advance that I would be distressed by the experience. But I could not help but wonder if I should not be more concerned about the absurdity of the whole thing. I still wanted to stand up and scream – but out of respect for the others there, I remained silent. I tried to convince myself that I just didn’t understand it well enough. I decided that I would have to go through the ceremony several more times before I could truly see the significance of everything. I went back to the temple by myself several more times, and became more accustomed to it, but it still felt a little bizarre anyway.
I was married in the Salt Lake Temple in April of 1989. My wife knew that there was no truth in Mormon doctrine, and left the Church immediately afterward. She also tried her best to convince me that Mormonism was false. I would not listen, so the first year of our marriage we experienced many difficult arguments and nearly divorced.
In the early spring of 1990, something shocking was brought to my attention. I was shown the engravings on the LDS History Museum across from Temple Square, and noticed the satanic pentagram among them. There were other strange symbols there as well, and I knew that some of these same markings were also found on the temple itself. I knew what they were, and I immediately thought, "If this is the true church of Jesus Christ, then why do they display the satanic pentagram on their buildings?" I could think of no reasonable answer. But I vowed to myself that I would find one.
Of course, there was no reasonable explanation or official answer for the pentagram being there. The only meanings I could find for the symbols were obviously the satanic meanings. Then, after researching this and some other prominent Mormon symbols, I came to the conclusion that there was no acceptable reason for them to be there if the Church were truly of God. Still, I was unwilling to leave the Church.
At the same time, I was confronted with some information from "anti-Mormon" literature. I was angry already about the pentagram, and I wanted to settle the matter finally for my own peace of mind. I knew that most of the items mentioned in the literature were not what I had been taught growing up. I was unwilling, then, to believe any of the information given. I decided the best course of action was to prove them wrong once and for all. So I decided look into each of the allegations. But, being extremely biased, I decided that I would only look in pro-Mormon books for the answers and the proof. I figured that if the LDS Church were false, their own books would prove it. I’m not sure what I really expected, but I was sure that even a long and difficult battle would ultimately prove Mormonism to be true. I was stunned that it only took a few months of intense and time-consuming research to reach a conclusion. I found that not only was Mormonism false, but that the easiest way to prove it false was from its own books.
Though I now knew it was false, I still had a difficult time giving up Mormonism for a number of reasons. First, anytime I considered leaving Mormonism I underwent some intense spiritual warfare – beyond anything I had ever heard of or seen in my lifetime. Second, I would risk losing my family or having them "cut-off" from me should I renounce my faith. Finally, since Mormonism was all I knew, by giving it up I wouldn’t have any spiritual direction aside from the Bible. Ultimately, though, I knew I couldn’t stay in a false religion. I put it off as long as my conscience would allow. I finally compiled all the information from my research into a study so I could see it all laid bare before me, and the proof was undeniable. I then sent a copy of the study, along with my resignation letter, to the President of the Mormon Church – Ezra Taft Bensen, who I am sure never saw it. The letter I received back basically gave me the run-around. They were unwilling to remove my name from their records. Finally, after threatening a lawsuit, they removed my name from their membership records, giving the reason as "my own request" on October 23, 1990.
It wasn’t until moving to California, and another year and a half had passed, that I found a good Church to attend. During this time, I knew the facts of the gospel, and continued to believe in God and the Bible. But I had not yet accepted Jesus Christ into my heart as Lord and Savior. In April of 1992, during a membership class at this Church, the full weight of the gospel message finally hit me, and I accepted Jesus as my Savior. I knew that my baptism into the Mormon Church did not fulfill the Biblical requirements for believer’s baptism. So I was baptized as a believer in the true Jesus Christ of the Bible in May of that year.
It was shortly after this time that I finally saw and understood God’s work in my life clear back when I was 17. If God had allowed me to serve a Mormon mission, I know that I would likely have been able to convince many into joining Mormonism. Once I came to the knowledge that Mormonism was false, I would have been devastated that I had led them astray. My testimony would have been of no value to them by that point to convince them otherwise. Knowing that I had potentially led people away from Christ would not have been tolerable to my conscience. I know that God knew this, and I believe that He kept me from going on a Mormon mission for that very purpose. But I believe that He was working further in my life by giving me a strong desire to go through the temple, because now I am able to testify fully of the things Mormonism teaches and believes. If I had not experienced the temple ceremony, then perhaps my witness to other temple Mormons would not be complete.
Since that time, I have grown in many areas. I have continued to do research in the area of Mormon doctrine and history. I have also continued to study the Bible, learning more about salvation and the work of Christ all the time. I take classes offered through the Moody Bible Institute, and I am a certified Bible study leader for Precept Ministries, International. I belong to a strong, Jesus centered and Bible believing Christian church. God has blessed me with 3 beautiful children (1 girl and 2 boys), and I am excited to be teaching them about the true Christ of the Bible. Having left the LDS Church, I now witness to their members about its’ doctrines and offer evangelism techniques that will help other Christians reach Mormon members for Christ. God has graciously permitted me to minister in this area, most notably through volunteer work with the Mormonism Research Ministry.
You can contact Lane at [email protected].