Thursday, January 6, 2011

When A Spouse Leaves the Church

It's tragically ironic that in a Church which claims to be so devoted to loving marriage relationships, when one spouse changes their mind about the validity of the Church,  this can threaten a previously healthy and happy marriage. It was a challenge in my marriage, when I learned the Church wasn't what it claimed to be, just like it is a real challenge for other people I've talked to about this issue.

How could a change of opinion threaten the stability of a previously healthy and fulfilling relationship? If you look at it logically, at least from a Mormon perspective, it makes perfect sense.  For example, if the purpose of life is to make it back to heaven as eternal couples, and if temple marriage and faithfulness in the Church is necessary for salvation, then if one spouse leaves the Church, the need for the other to separate from the heretic is obvious. The spouse, who has detached themselves from the blessings of the Church, cannot go to heaven, and neither can you if you stay with them since eternal marriage is required to salvation in the highest level of the celestial kingdom. In a conversation my spouse had with her Dad, he admitted that the option of her divorcing me over my loss of faith "had crossed his mind."

Despite the fact that the premise of this argument is false (there is not a shred of evidence that "eternal life" exists, or that marriage in a Mormon temple is required to get there) this belief is ingrained and widespread in the Church. It's Mormon doctrine that we accept on faith. And if a Mormon has been indoctrinated since they were children about the need for temple marriage and enduring in faithfulness to the end, then having a spouse leave the Church can be one of the most challenging events in their marriage - on par with becoming unemployed or losing a child. Although I don't have any data to validate my suspicion, I suspect it's a common cause for divorce in the Church.

This, of course, is a tragic event: to throw away a loving and fulfilling marriage because your spouse changed their opinion. Think about it: all that happened is that someone changed their mind! No sin has been committed, no affair has occurred. The husband may still be a wonderful father and provider, the wife may be a devoted spouse and mother. But if someone doesn't think the Church is what it claims to be - the Kingdom of God on earth - then divorce may ensue because you can't make it to heaven being married to a heretic.

Part of the shock to my wife, when I changed my mind about the truth claims of the Church, was that I had somehow become a different person. This is also a very common reaction among extended family. If I could go from being a member of the bishopric one day, to being an apostate the next, then what other surprises could I spring on her? If I could suddenly leave the Church (it may have appeared sudden to her, but was much more gradual to me) then could I suddenly leave her and my kids too? As crazy as this sounded to me, this is how she (who is extremely intelligent and rational) sincerely felt at one point. Such is the power of religious faith and fear.

Of course I wouldn't!  I still loved her and my children just as much as I did before (and I would need their support and understanding more than ever). I was the same person I was before. I had only changed my mind about the Church based on the facts I had honestly discovered through sincere and open minded research. But in the absolutist, black and white world of Mormon dogma, there are some things you just can't change your mind about. And the validity of the Church is one of them. It threatens everything.

However, our story  has a happy ending. Two years after I told my wonderful companion that I didn't believe in the Church anymore, we are still happily married, and we respect each other's religious opinions - of which we mostly agree, but not completely.  We largely agree on the big points, and appreciate the subtler differences of opinions we have. That is what makes conversations and relationships interesting after all.

We have always been good at communicating our differences, and this event tested our skills of communication to the breaking point. We stayed up many nights, talking, pleading, debating, and crying with each other over the truthfulness of the Church and how to raise our family when parents don't agree about religion. We went to bed many nights frustrated and dejected. Sometimes I didn't know for sure if our marriage was going to make it. We had some tough times - the divorce word even came up once. I think this scared her so much, that the spell the Church had on her was broken. She saw that she might just throw away everything we had built together, over something as unimportant as whether Joseph Smith was a prophet or a charlatan.  My extreme sorrow at the prospect of separating from the love of my life, and my best friend in it, reassured her that the most important thing in the world to me - was her. I remember feeling that the Church was more important to her than I was, and she remembers feeling that "the truth" was more important than she was. This is how the Church conditions you to think: as long as we both put God and the Church first in our marriage, then our eternal relationship was safe. But if you question the Church, or God, then suddenly your marriage may be undermined. How messed up is that?

In retrospect, my big problem was that I thought I could convince her with logical arguments and historical facts. I remember thinking: "If I could just get you to know what I know, you would understand." The problem is that you can't do this. People must discover it themselves, at their own pace. I was trying to convince her with what was most convincing to me. Really what I needed to do mostly, was reassure her more that I loved her unconditionally and that I would never leave despite our differences of opinions. Although my faith in religion was dashed to pieces, my faith in my spouse was as strong as ever, and I needed her faith in me to stay strong too. I needed to be patient, and allow her to process my decision at her own pace. I needed to let her discover the truth about the Church on her own timeline, not force her to discover it on mine. It wasn't until I was deployed to Iraq, and she had some time to explore the books about the Church on her own, that she could think and discover what I knew already.

And she did.


  1. Beautiful story. It is so nice to hear about this less publicized occurrence.

  2. Josh our stories are very similar, but work slightly in reverse.

    My husband Nate refers to himself as an "ethnic Mormon," someone born into the faith who never chose it for himself. I left the church at eighteen and never looked back (you know, until I did). We were married outside of the temple, and were content in our lives as rebellious "in-actives."

    While Nate was deployed to Iraq, I began regularly attending church meetings with our children. We'd been stationed at Fort Benning only two months, and I was desperate for the support of a friend. I thought, Someone at church is bound to be nice to me, and off we went.

    The good Southern folks of the Bradley Park branch did not disappoint. Because they were kind, I kept showing up. Many of the talks (the LDS equivalent to sermons) left a lasting impression on my mind. Particularly those given on the subject of eternal families.

    Let me fast foward five years, for the sake time (I win Longest Comment award, right!).

    Nate is still an atheist, a lover of science, and humanist. I, on the other hand, am a faithful temple-going wearer of magic underwear.

    For anyone who (still/hopes to) believes in God, remember that He is the master of broken timelines. Doing things out of order doesn't mean that damage done is beyond repair.

    If eternal FAMILIES are key to salvation, and I'd like to think they are, because I really like mine, and want to keep them forever, anything, like a change of opinion, that would break up an otherwise loving marriage is an abomination, and therefore something of the devil. (I realize atheists don't believe in the devil either, forgive me. Hey readers, did you know atheists still believe in forgiveness?).

    Families are the whole point. More to the point, marriages are the whole point. Without them, there is no point.

    I appreciate your willingness to share your story. You anonymous blurker above is correct: we don't talk about this enough.

  3. Thanks for the comment Erin. Glad to get them from those still wearing the magic underwear :) I'm also glad that you and Nate have figured out a workable situation - with him being an atheist and you being a devout believer. Keeping families intact is the most important priority. But I've always found our doctrine to get in the way of that when spouses disagree religiously.

    So my question for you would be how do you work around the doctrine? Specifically, how do you and Nate agree to disagree when Mormons believe faithfulness is required to create eternal families? And secondly, what techniques have you found that help you keep the peace in a religiously diverse marriage? I'm interested to get your perspective from the other side.

  4. This is going to sound too easy, but in all honesty I've thought long and hard about your question, and this is the only answer I've got.

    In our situation it helps tremendously that we've both been in each other's shoes. Nate was an active Mormon for 24 years and so understands the doctrines, habits, and lifestyle of an active latter-day saint as well as anyone. He knows why I am compelled to belief and why I HOPE there is a God even when I can't PROVE it. He knows that regular church attendance, daily scripture study, and that sort of thing are important to me because I've committed to being an honest to goodness Mormon and feel I'm holding up my end of a bargain with an omnipotent being. He wants me to be an honest person, and so encourages my diligence.

    I, on the other hand, know what it feels like to be indifferent. I have never gone so far as to label myself an agnostic or atheist, but for years really didn't care one way or the other about God. Having felt that way and changed my mind, I realize how important it was for me to come to that conclusion on my own and greatly appreciate Nate's willingness to let me take things at my own pace and follow the "dictates of my own conscience" (as we like to say).

    We agree that matters of faith and belief have to be decided on your own, with time, careful thought, study, and conversation with people you love and respect.

    He knows I think I can't go to heaven without him. And I know that he'll have to decide whether or not he wants heaven without my trying to nag and influence him.

    While an eternal marriage seems ideal TO ME (and I think the idea is appealing to him too, but seems to be just a lovely fantasy), we both realize an eternal union is null and void unless a loving relationship is cultivated in the here and now. Instead of focusing on the forever, we work very hard at being good people today.

  5. Thanks Erin. I think it's great that you have both been in the other's shoes. I'm sure it helps each of you to be understanding and patient with the other. I think it also helps you realize that even though you have differences of opinions, you didn't somehow become a different person in the process of changing your mind about religion.

    I'll be honest though: I cringed a little when you said "He knows I think I can't go to heaven without him." I think that idea can be destructive to relationships. That is the doctrine that I wanted to hear you explain your take on. However, I can see how you are focusing on what's important: your relationship in the here and now, which you emphasize in your last paragraph. To me, that is what's most important because it's real. Marriage in the afterlife is accepted on faith and is not known. It's sad to see people (and I have) throw away what is real for what is unknown.

    Anyway, thanks for your comment. It's really great to get your perspective. Tell Nate to chime in anytime. We're looking forward to getting together with you two soon.

  6. Good, well, "cringe worthy" is what I was going for. Just kidding.

    All I meant to say is that Nate and I both understand the doctrine. We realize it's all or nothin'. Maybe no matter what I do, without a “righteous” husband, all I’ll get is plain old death. (There’s really no maybe about it, that’s straight up doctrine. The maybe’s just there for my ego). I appreciate the person I am when I go to church though. I’m fairly lazy by nature and have a ridiculous mean/angry/jealous streak. I’m extremely motivated by the example of a good guy like Jesus Christ, and by the reward of possible exaltation. (I mean, c'mon, as rewards go, it doesn't get much better than that)! It’s possible that my diligence, repentence, etc will be for naught. I still feel like I'm a better person with the gospel than I would be without it.

    I am confident that my choice to marry Nate was the right one, but I agree that believing you can't get to heaven without your spouse has the potential to be destructive to relationships. It would be very easy for someone in my situation to harbor resentment toward their spouse for not getting on board.

    It helps to remember though that this (the gospel) is not what he signed up for. What kind of person would I be if I tried to hold him to promises he never made? I may not get to heaven at the rate I'm going now, but I'm pretty sure hypocrites don't get to go there either.

  7. PS. Nate asked me to tell you that he'd like to weigh in, but he hasn't had the time. He's been busy for weeks doing post-deployment inventories. These sorts of things are probably better discussed in person anyway--it'll be fun when we get a chance to sit down together and talk things over.

  8. Lots to discuss on this topic alone. Looking forward to it.

  9. i just read this for the first time, and i'm sitting at my kitchen table crying. you and heidi share one of the few marriages i believe would marry someone to have.

    i happy that love is more powerful than fear!

  10. How did you work this out with your children?

  11. Anonymous: Could you elaborate a little on your question so that I understand what you are asking?

  12. Anonymous: here is a link to a blogpost that explains my feelings about teaching religion to my children. In short, I think religious education is great. The more they know about religions the better. I think everybody should take a comparative religion course and study the major religious texts. I just don't like the indoctrination of children that most religions (and especially Mormonism) do before kids are able to think critically for themselves.

  13. I love your website Josh. At the minute I am going through a really difficult time in the church and it is great to find really balanced, fair, and rational arguments on so many sore points such as above. Keep up the outstanding work, I'm sure you are making a big difference to many people who want to confront their doubts

  14. I came across this and it has given me hope. For the last several years, I have been drifting away from the LDS church and finally last year I left it all together. It has been hard for my husband to deal with, he is a great guy and tries to be supportive but I see the hurt it has caused him. Part of me wishes that I wouldn't have left just so he wouldn't hurt, however I know that I cannot pretend to believe anymore. This article has given me hope that with time and communication,we will be able to move forward.

  15. Thanks! I really hope everything works out between you. I remember feeling very angry that my previous religion could threaten my marriage (or so it seemed). Just be honest, be yourself, communicate, listen and listen some more, reassure him of your love for him - and that your feelings or beliefs about the church has nothing to do with him - and I'll bet that you patience will pay off.

  16. Im so glad that I came upon this site. My husband has recently left the church and its being some what of a trying time for the both of us. He being raised a member of the LDS church, going on a mission, and blessing our beautiful children, its hard for me to understand how this happens. I as well grew up "Mormon" but didnt really gain a personal testimony of the church until 20yrs old. I love my husband and children more than anything in the world but its hard for me to get past the part of how we will raise our children in a home with two religious points of view. I take my children to church w me but its not the same with out my companion there. ERIN, do you have any suggestions or good reads that can help me survive this road block in my life and raise my children in this type of home? Also how do you go about telling family members? I feel like this is one of the hardest parts for me. I dont want them to see my husband as a bad, "evil" person but to still have the same respect and love for him as before. Thanks so much Josh for posting this. I hope to get some feedback soon :)

  17. Anonymous: I know that Erin is in the process of moving her family to South Korea, and am not sure when she will be able to respond. So I wanted to share a really good video from another couple who went through a faith crisis. My wife and I share a lot of similarities with these people (except they jump on the trampoline a lot more than we do, and I don't have a goatee). I suspect a lot of marriages work out like this whether or not you end up on the same page religiously. Lots of good advice from the wife in this clip:

  18. I like this video from the husbands perspective but not sure its what i was looking for. I dont feel like it helped me understand or answered my question on how to raise your children in a home with a one believing parent. Thanks for sharing this though. Id love to get any more feedback that you think maybe helpful.

  19. Thanks for posting this. I'm at an impasse right now in my life with this subject. My wife knows that I have some "significant questions" regarding the church for which I'm seeking answers, but she's told me she's certain that I'll find answers to my questions that won't shake my faith. I've certainly found answers to my questions and a whole lot more, and at this point my heart and mind are entirely out of the church.

    I'm terrified to tell my wife. I love her and our newborn daughter, but I don't entirely trust her to handle the news in a rational way. It's nice to know that it can be done and that it's not a guarantee of divorce.

    I particularly appreciate your guidance to be exceptionally loving at the time you break the news. I know that every relationship is different, but do you have any more detailed advice on how to break the news and handle the ensuing fallout?

  20. Everyone is different. I think the most important thing is to reassure her that your feelings and beliefs about the church do not effect the way you feel about her. Reassure her often how you love her and your daughter and your family. It is normal for people to feel that you no longer value ethics, family, tradition, etc - when you "leave the church." The church conditions us to react that way. It's also human nature to distrust people who are perceived as outsiders. Leaving the church, or saying you don't believe anymore, puts you on the outside. So just love, love, love, and reassure, reassure, reassure.

    It might also be smart to do it gradually. I went for the "honesty is the best policy" and the "lay the cards down all at once" policy. That can be tough. Learning about it all at once can be difficult to digest. But I think it depends on your personality (I couldn't be dishonest and pretend).

    One last bit of advice: involve her in the process. Discuss the books you are reading with her. Do it in a way that you are not trying to "disprove the church" - but in a way that is informative and interesting. Present it as history. Bushman is really good on this issue because he is all in favor of educating church members about the real history of Joseph Smith.

  21. I just wanted to thank you for posting your story. This is the first story I read on the internet about when one spouse left the LDS church while the other stayed in (for a time). I read your story after my husband decided to leave the church. I appreciated that it wasn't "anti-mormon", so I felt comfortable reading additional info on this web site as well as comments. That information lead me to find out things about the church that I didn't know, and that lead me to leave the church as well, about a week after my husband. Thank you very much for posting your story, it has helped my family so much!

    1. Thanks Shell! You made my day. I'm so glad that my feeble attempts to explain my story on this (now mostly retired) blog helped you. I wish you and your family the best on your journey.

  22. Josh:

    With all due respect, every (good) parent alive "indoctrinates" their children to their way of thinking when it comes to morals, values, and religion. And probably football. Isn't that what being a parent is about? Are we supposed to feed and clothe our children but then never have a meaningful conversation with them about anything? Math (hate it), basketball (i try to care, but just can't), morals, world peace, religion (i'm a proud, indocrinating Mormon Mom), anything? We should just keep our mouths shut about what we believe and let them get their baseline from just whomever? That doesn't make sense. At all. If I believe something, and it makes me happy, and I think it's true, then I have the right to "indoctrinate" my children about it.

    So do you. So does everyone. And so do I. People decide for themselves later anyways, and the vast majority of people raised in the Church stay in the church, and it brings them much happiness and joy throughout their lives. Prove to me otherwise before you tell me I'm wrong.

    I've noticed in your posts that you think the Mormons do this "indoncrinating" more. I disagree. I come from a part-member family and every parent in it wants to instill THEIR truths and values to their children. And the truths and values aren't the same, but every parent thinks they are right. And don't they have the right to do that? Even if they are Mormon?

    I honestly think that you are giving the LDS church, and the parents in it, an unfair shake in this instance.

  23. You are right that parents have every right to indoctrinate their kids. Parents of every major faith teach their kids to believe what they believe. Sometimes this is helpful, sometimes it isn't. I don't think that it's a good thing when Jehovah's Witnesses teach their kids that you go to hell if you get a blood transfusion. I don't think it's a good thing when Christian Scientists teach their kids that western medicine is not required to treat deadly illnesses - that faith is sufficient. I don't think it's a good thing when Muslims living in Saudi Arabia teach their girls that they don't have the same rights as men, that they must cover themselves whenever in public, and that they can't go anywhere without a male.

    These parents have every right to teach these, and other, abominable teachings. But I don't think it's healthy.

    Of course, Mormonism is nowhere near as unhealthy as the above cited examples. There is plenty within the LDS church that does help people to grow up, live healthy and happy lives, and be productive citizens in their communities. You are probably doing a fine job as a parent, and I'm sure you love your kids as much as I do my own.

    But it can be difficult when Mormons decide that Mormonism isn't true (as it claims) or that it isn't making them happy. If it isn't working for them, as it might for you, what options do they have? Leaving usually causes an immense amount of suffering, it can threaten family relationships, it can even lead to divorce. The reason why is specified in the OP. I don't think it's healthy to indoctrinate your kids so heavily that if they decide for themselves (for some very good reasons that most Mormons aren't aware of) that the Church isn't what it claims to be, that it leads to such a hurtful reaction of rejection from their families, spouses, and LDS community. I've lived through it. You haven't.

    It would be healthier, IMO, if Mormons could teach their kids that they are loved unconditionally, no matter what they decide to think about religion when they grow up. It's tough to make up their minds for themselves until they are a bit older. It really shouldn't matter that much.

    But for Mormons, it does. Why? Because of how we are brought up to believe all the exclusive truth claims, that our church is the only true church, and the only place you can be truly happy. That are a few ideas that I think our kids would be better off without. We will probably have to just disagree about that.

  24. I get you on your first paragraph, totally. But you lose me on the rest. I have been Mormon in Arizona, Utah, Florida, Virginia, and Puerto Rico. And I can't think of a single instance when someone left the religion and they were immediately hated and banished forever from and/or by their family.

    I know your good reasons, because you have listed them in your blog. Again, I come from a part-member family. My mom is Mormon, my dad isn't, 2 of my siblings are, one isn't, and one is a recent convert. And yet I knew all that stuff you were talking about. I'm not sure why it was such a shock to you, being raised in the Church. Yet I was still converted and I believe and I will always believe. Joseph Smith's imperfections and all.

    But back to the subject. I just don't think this shunning when people leave the LDS religion is happening like you think it is. Disappointment? Absolutely. Sadness? For sure. But shunning? Nope. FYI, one of my siblings did leave the church about ten years ago. In Mesa. Arizona, which is Provo junior. After a temple marriage and a long life of activity. And no one has shunned them.

    As for the exclusive truth claims. It is what it is. We do claim to have the exclusive truth and I believe that we do. And I want my children to believe that we do. But our religion teaches love, love, love, service, service, service, and following Christ. And if we are loving, serving, and following Christ, then we are being kind to everyone alive. And if we aren't, we have bigger problems to worry about.

    It's just not complicated rocket science for me. And I hope I indoctrinate my kids so good that they never want to leave. I'm doing my best!!!

    1. You can see how indoctrination is unhealthy in other religions, you just can't see it in your own? Not even a little bit? It's difficult to see our own problems or lay blame at our own door. It's a human tendency we're all prone too.

      Let me try to put it this way. The Mormon Church teaches that marriage in the temple is required for eternal progression. The Church also teaches that apostasy, especially after making temple covenants, is pretty serious business (might even earn you a ticket to the Telestial Kingdom - or worse). So what is the sensible thing to do when a spouse leaves the church? To many people in this situation, divorce makes a lot of sense, and it sometimes happens. Not always - as in my case - but it was a struggle to get to our healthy place. I have good friends who were not as lucky. I think that is tragic. But it happens with more regularity than, apparently, you are aware of.

      As for your denial that Mormons "shun" apostates, I respectfully disagree. Shunning and ostracism come in many forms (and, yes, "sadness" and "disappointment" towards the person is a part of it. How would you feel if the people you thought loved you the most told you they were "saddened" and "so disappointed" in you?). But part of ostracism comes from trying to convince you that you're deluded, wrong, deceived, not happy, lazy, selfish, morally degenerate, nihilistic, or many other labels people attach to you. Again, I don't know how you think you are an expert on the subject, given that you have not walked in my shoes. You seem pretty flip in dismissing something that was extremely painful to me. It's a common occurrence in many religions when someone leaves; our's included. Again, it's understandable why it occurs. But denying that it does occur, doesn't help.

      And, finally, with regards to the exclusive truth claims of the church: It is arrogant to the extreme to claim that you are the sole possessor of God's complete truth and salvation, and that everybody in the world needs to join your church, in this life or the next, to go to live in God's presence. Again, you have every right to indoctrinate your kids that this is the case. But if one of them decides someday that it's not, I hope you will love them and accept them just the same. And (I'm being totally sincere here) I think that you would. Even though we disagree about some things, I get the feeling you are a really great person and a totally devoted parent who is trying (like we all are) to do what is best for your kids. I am too. We just disagree on what is best for them. I wish we had the opportunity to meet in person (blogs are so impersonal).

      Best wishes, and thanks for stopping by my blog!

    2. Josh, leaving the church was the most painful process of my life. Thank you for your polite candor.

      My parents will not longer speak to me in this "earth life" due to their shame for me and what I am doing to my "eternal life."

      I luckily have a husband who was raised Mormon, still practices Mormonism, yet respects me as an adult and an individual. He realizes that part of life is growing and changing. He also believes in the 11th Article of Faith: We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

      Many people, including my immediate family took it personal when I expressed that I know longer believed in the Joseph Smith story. It's tragic that a mother and father could dismiss their child from their life because we do not agree about an experience a 14 year old farm boy had in the 1800's, but it happens. All I want is to be unconditionally loved by my family, but I am too much of a burden, disappointment and source of sorrow because I will no longer be able to live with them in the celestial kingdom.

  25. Hi Again:

    I just have one more point of view, and then I'm done. I think.

    Anyways, thanks for your response. So you don't think parents have the right to be disappointed and saddened in their child if they make a choice that the parents truly believe will bring their child sadness?

    Are parents not allowed to have opinions about anything? Hockey (huh?), the color purple (needs to die a slow painful death) asparagus (worse than purple), or even Mormonism?

    I mean, if my opinion is that being Mormon is going to bring my child the greatest happiness in the universe, and they decide to not be Mormon, I'm not allowed to be sad?

    Come on, I'm allowed opinions as a parent. So are you, and so are your parents...I honestly don't know them but I'm guessing they were sad when you left the church, and that hurt your feelings.

    Also, as far as being able to stay married through your changes, and others not being so lucky, well that all boils down to lifestyle choices. All married couples should want to live the same life style, whether it be lesbian, Jewish, Mormon, whatever. If one partner suddenly changes their lifestyle completely, maybe deciding they aren't lesbian after all (not trying to open up another can of worms, it's JUST an example :))and then the other partner can't live with the new change, don't they have the right to say, "Hey! This isn't what I signed up for! This isn't how I want to live!" And then maybe get a divorce? So they can live how they DO want to live? In your case, you and your wife BOTH changed, maybe not at the same time, but now you both life the same type of life. I don't think it is the LDS church's fault if someone in a marriage changes who they are a few years down the road and it becomes a deal breaker for the other one.

    And that, my friends, is a run-on paragraph. But I hope it made sense. Anyways.....

    And just so you know, I have a grown daughter. And she most certainly has not done things the way I have wanted her too. And she is still my girl, a bright shining spectacular light in my life, so you are correct about your last paragraph. Sometimes I want to smack her upside the back of her head, sure, but you are still right. I will love and accept her forever.

    As for me being flip and not walking in your shoes, you're right, I haven't. It is my humble opinion that you are super sensitive to your friends and families opinions, and maybe I'm not like that, so my apologies on that one.

    However, you haven't walked in my shoes either. And my shoes are that I was raised in a home with no (mormon) priesthood. It was cold and lacking real happiness. Then I went on to marry an inactive (mormon) guy. Same thing, no real happiness. I am now, many, many years later, married to an active Mormon guy (I have always been active). And MY experience is that I have lived both ways, and I choose Mormon. It makes me happy. It makes me happy. It makes me happy.

    And if this is my experience, and I have spent many, many, many hours searching and thinking and then I decide that this is the way for true happiness, then I should get to be sad if my girls don't make the same choice and I should get to indoctrinate away.....don't you think?

    Best wishes to you. Hope your day is great!

  26. Hey MALEISA! Welcome back. I'm trying to let this blog die a peaceful death and you keep resurrecting it (well, at least this post). We've really got to stop meeting this way.

    Since you wrote such a thoughtful comment, I'll post and reply; we're probably the only ones reading at this point anyway.

    Yes - you are allowed to be opinionated. You have the opinion that being Mormon is the best way to be happy, and that if your child was not Mormon, they would not be happy. You have experience in this department; the times you were active in Mormonism, you were happy; the times you were not active/Mormon, you were not happy. I'll give you that. Mormonism makes many people very very happy. It sounds like you are one of the millions of happy customers.

    However . . . it doesn't make everyone happy. Some people are quite miserable within Mormonism. I know this is hard for you to fathom, but just accept that it is so. If you were to meet people in my social circle (or meet me) then this point would quickly become obvious to you. Furthermore, there are many people outside Mormonism (who have either never heard of the church, or who are just not all that interested, or who are happy in their own religion, or happy with no religion at all, or happy after leaving Mormonism) who are very very happy with their lives; perhaps just as happy as you are with yours. It is insular and short-sighted to the extreme to think that everyone else in the world is not as happy as you are.

    In sum, people can be happy in Mormonism, without Mormonism, and even AFTER Mormonism. Everyone can be happy! I'm all for happiness and the many ways people find it. This is one of the great truths I learned after leaving the church, and it made me happy to allow everyone else to be happy without having to adopt my own worldview.

  27. (Part 2) I think what you really want is for your family to be happy. That is what is really important. You just have a hard time imagining that it could be possible to be happy outside of Mormonism.

    Now, if someone were to leave Mormonism (because it made them miserable, or because they learned facts about the Church that they disagreed with on moral grounds) and find happiness on the other side, then what good would it do for their family to be "sad" for them? What good would it do to say that they couldn't REALLY be happy without the Church? Well, really no purpose at all. Why not just be happy for them instead? Why not find out why they left? Why not find out what makes them happy now? I wish more people in my own family could do just that, but sadly, very few have. It's one of my greatest frustrations: a sense of not being known or understood because people don't want to, or are afraid to, ask and find out.

    The fact is that we as parents want our kids to be happy, independent, contributing members of society. We want them to grow up and make decisions that will make them happy. If you really value free-agency (as Mormons do) then why not let them make decisions for themselves without all the indoctrination up front (when they are kids) and then the emotional manipulation (i.e. "being sad" or shunning, or not talking to them about religion, etc) after they have a different opinion than you do? If you really value free-agency, then you will teach your kids correct principles and let them govern themselves (one of Joseph's better ideas). Being "sad" for them just hurts them as well as yourself - and your relationship with eachother. You are free to be sad. However, I'm just saying that it's a harmful reaction (but one that is all too common).

    I want to see my kids grow up to be happy too. I'm investing just as much energy to that goal as you are. I just think that some of the things that have made me happy, might not be the exact same things that make my kids happy. I really don't care two-cents what they think about politics, or economics, or religion (since it has very little to do with happiness). If you doubt my assertion, then read a little bit about the subject from many of the good studies coming out about what makes people happy (I'd recommend The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt, Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert, or Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth by Ed Denier). I just want them to be morally upright (yes - you can be moral without religion or Republicanism) citizens that contribute to making this world a better place, and who enjoy the precious life they have.

    Thanks again for your interest in my little corner of cyberspace. Best wishes to you as well.