The following was originally printed in the December 2009 edition of MRM’s Update, a special edition mailed to financial supporters who also receive the publication Mormonism Researched. To request a free subscription of Mormonism Researched, please visit here.
A reader asks:
How should one handle their knowledge of the truth of LDS doctrine and history with respect to believers still close to them? Is it wrong to knowingly let someone live a life that is largely controlled by an institution that you know is false? If the overall impacts were smaller I probably wouldn’t be asking this question, but LDS life is so intensely centered and controlled by the faith. Mormonism is not only built on a grandiose fiction, it teaches many things harmful to a person’s well being. And the majority of members have no idea about the historical or doctrinal issues. I think most of us would agree that the Church’s hiding of these facts is dishonest and wrong. But are we doing the same thing by silently leaving and allowing others we are close to be shielded from the troubling side? I know live and let live is the path of least resistance, but I’m wondering if, in the big picture, it is the right one.
MRM’s Bill McKeever answers:
You ask an excellent question. Speaking to loved ones can oftentimes be very difficult, but necessary nonetheless. Though we cannot force anyone into a saving faith, we should pray to be used by the Holy Spirit to present biblical truths to those who have embraced theological error.
Those who are offended by the gospel message only prove they are in need of it. Knowing the message is offensive causes me to be all the more sensitive regarding my demeanor. I certainly do not need to exacerbate the problem by coming off as abrasive or insensitive. I have found that asking questions works best because I can continue to ask more questions based on the answers I receive. Hopefully my line of questions will be used by the Holy Spirit to open the Mormons’ eyes to some things they may not have considered before.
A question that I have often used to get things started goes something like, “If there was a slight chance that what you believe could be wrong, would you want to know?” Or, “If something was not factual, would prayer make it factual?” I also like to preface my further questions with an occasional, “Please correct me if I am wrong, but….” This lets them know that I am willing to hear their view even if it contradicts the point I am making. Listening is always important.
Having said all this, we shouldn’t feel guilty when a person has no interest in being intellectually honest about their faith. There are many Mormons who simply do not want to listen.
Many do “silently leave,” and though I understand the awkwardness of announcing your departure at a fast and testimony meeting, those closest to you should be given an opportunity to hear why you’ve come to discover that Mormonism is not a trustworthy institution. This great witnessing opportunity allows you to show your concern for them.
It also allows you to clearly explain that your departure was not based on some moral failure or inability to “live the gospel.”
The local ward can be a vicious rumor mill, and while there are certainly no guarantees this will protect your integrity, by giving church acquaintances an explanation you have done your part to protect them from the sins of bearing false witness and gossip.