by Sharon Lindbloom
13 July 2020
Mette Harrison, an ex-member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, recently posted an article on Religion News Service titled, “The five doctrines of ex-Mormonism.” Mette writes about ex-Mormon get-togethers she has attended and how she has noticed that, in her opinion, ex-Mormons have traded one set of dogma for another. They still live by a set of rules, but often these are opposites of the Mormon rules they left behind. She writes,
“…ex-Mormon get-togethers resemble anti-testimony meetings, people sitting around and bearing witness to the pain of Mormonism in ways that seem very similar to the old testimonies I’d hear on Fast Sunday about how wonderful Mormonism was.”
Mette lists “the [five] top things ex-Mormons know are true.” These are:
- “You will be healed by trying every substance forbidden by the Word of Wisdom.”
Mette says she feels pressured in these ex-Mormon gatherings to talk about how great it is to drink alcohol socially and relax with friends.
- “Your sex life will improve and you will feel better about your body.”
Mette often hears ex-Mormons express variations of these thoughts: “Alcohol and/or drugs will aid your sex life. Tank tops will make you feel better about your body. There is nothing wrong with pornography and it may be good for you.”
- “Joseph Smith was a pedophile/Brigham Young was a racist.”
Mette has little to say about this “top truth” of ex-Mormonism other than to clarify that if Joseph Smith was guilty of sexual exploits with underaged girls, the proper label for what he was would be “sexual predator,” not “pedophile.”
- “You need to read the following white male authors.”
Mette worries that ex-Mormons are “still relying on male recommendations to read white male worldviews in a way that looks a lot like Mormon patriarchy.”
- “Science is the way to all truth.”
“It feels like ex-Mormons are very busy congratulating themselves on getting out,” Mette writes, “on seeing the truth” that “religion and spirituality can never be trusted.”
I don’t know about the ex-Mormons Mette hangs out with, but this doesn’t sound much like the ex-Mormons I know.
However, the ex-Mormons I’m most familiar with left Mormonism and turned to Christ; Mette’s five “truths” are not at all what they express when they talk about what is important in their lives after Mormonism.
It’s true that, like Mette’s friends, my ex-Mormon friends were hurt and betrayed by the church that they poured their hearts and souls into for a good bit of their lives – the church for which they sacrificed, for which they championed, while believing that it was true and good and right. Because of the betrayal they had suffered, they have reexamined everything they once thought they knew. Part of that examination process is daring to say things out loud like, “Keeping the Word of Wisdom is not a prerequisite to receiving eternal life,” or “Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were supposedly dedicated to truth and righteousness, in direct communication with God Himself, but they did not act like men who lived to glorify God.”
Ex-Mormon Christians sound very, very different from Mette’s friends, or even Mette herself. These ex-Mormons encourage others to find, as they themselves did, new hope and life in the Christ of the Bible. Their focus is not on any of the previously forbidden behaviors of Mormonism, but on the grace and mercy that has been shown them by a loving and forgiving Savior.
Here are some of the top things ex-Mormon Christians say regarding what they know is true:
Loren: “I’ve…carefully studied the Bible. What a thorough and magnificent witness for Christ! The greatest book ever written, it has led millions of people to the Lord.”
Betty: “From the day when the truth of God’s Word penetrated my very being, I have trusted Christ alone for my salvation, and I have known a peace and joy and a love of God and my fellowman that I never thought possible. ‘…and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.’ –Galatians 2:20”
Carolyn: “I live each day rejoicing. Every burden on my heart is gone. Every doubt and fear is gone …how glorious it is to know the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior; to be absolutely certain of my salvation apart from anything I have done, or can do; to be a possessor of the indwelling Spirit of Christ—to live under the matchless grace of God.”
Dave: “I have found that ‘The Truth Will Set You Free.’ Praise the Lord, He is worthy to be praised. In the name above all other names, Jesus, for he is LORD.”
LT: “Thanks be to God He showed me my wretchedness, His perfection, and of course, His Grace and sufficiency. Thanks be to God, He reached down to save my life…Please God, show [Mormons] the kind of mercy that you have shown me!”
Pam: “My God is HOLY, forgiving, all-powerful, everlasting, and His promises are kept…It is my continued prayer that all of my LDS family members (I love them dearly) will come to Christ; receiving true salvation–free in Christ!”
Mike S: “I know this for a fact: God’s word never changes. Isaiah 40 verse 8 states: ‘The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God will stand forever.’”
Lynn: “I have come to believe that each human has a critical choice to make: the real Christ of the Bible or a counterfeit substitute.”
Mark: “For many years now I have been a Bible-believing, born-again, evangelical Christian who unashamedly loves God because of the astonishing forgiveness that He has granted me. He has changed my life, giving me hope that I never had as an active Mormon. It is the same hope that I wish to share with others, particularly Mormons, who I still consider ‘my people.’”
Mike T: “Coming from a system that saw obedience to law as the way to God I was brought to rejoice in the fact that ‘a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify’ (Romans 3:21). The assurances of God’s Word are a blessing to me beyond anything I could hope or ask. I know that through faith in Jesus I have eternal life as a present possession and a guaranteed inheritance (John 5:24). I just thought you would like to know.”
Mette’s experiences — and her resulting list of the five doctrines of ex-Mormonism — fit well with the comforting but unsupportable assertions often made by active Mormons that members who leave the church do so because they are too weak to follow the rules or they just want to be free to sin. But, in fact, this is not the full story.
There exists a great community of joyful and rejoicing people whom God has called “out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). These people left Mormonism in search of God’s truth, and like the merchant who searched and eventually found a beautiful pearl of great value (Matthew 13:45-46), these ex-Mormons found it in Christ and made God’s beautiful truth their own. Five “things [Christian] ex-Mormons know are true” might be enumerated like this:
- Peace in Christ (Colossians 3:15)
- Hope in Christ (Colossians 1:27)
- Freedom in Christ (John 8:31-32)
- Faith in Christ (Galatians 2:16)
- Abundant life in Christ (John 10:10)
But of course, it doesn’t stop there. Truly knowing Christ is, in the apostle Paul’s words, a thing of “surpassing worth” — everything else in life is as so much rubbish that pales in comparison (Philippians 3:8-10).
This is a very great truth that Christian ex-Mormons know. And because of the joy it has brought to their lives, they long for those who are still in darkness to know it, too.
This is a very different world of ex-Mormonism from that which Mette has experienced, but that could change. As Christian teacher John Piper explains,
“The great promise to those who seek the Lord is that he will be found. ‘If you seek him, he will be found by you’ (1 Chronicles 28:9). And when he is found, there is great reward. ‘Whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him’ (Hebrews 11:6).”
I invite Mette, her ex-Mormon friends, and all people everywhere: Seek God and His truth — and find everlasting joy in the blessed love of Christ.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
To see Sharon’s other news articles, click here.