by Fred W. Anson
Without question the loss of community is one of the things most quickly, and often most painfully, felt by Mormons transitioning out of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That’s why I believe that former Mormons can and should find encouragement and support by joining with others like themselves as soon as possible after exiting the Mormon Church. The stories of those who don’t are, all too often, heartbreaking.
However, sometimes the stories who do are even worse. That’s because all too often, Ex-Mormon support groups, that lack a positive sense of direction can deteriorate into a quagmire of complaints, bitterness and anger. As a result many former Latter-day Saints stay stuck in a negative attitude for the rest of their life after leaving the Mormon Church. And we all have stories of those who have gotten downright mean and nasty.
This need not be!
While I understand that most people in the healing process need a gracious place where those feelings can be vented I always encourage my Christian Ex-Mormon friends to press past the quagmire of angry bitterness and into health and happiness through a restored relationship with the God of the Bible and His covenant people.
This is possible but requires belief and trust that God’s word is true when it says:
‘God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.’
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
— James 4:6-10 (NIV)
Simply put, I have found that all too often transitioning Mormons cut their own healing short and fail to gain the hard won wisdom that God is trying to impart to them by choosing to attack Mormonism rather than staying in the humble, reflective, broken place of learning spoken of in this passage. All too often it seems that they are trying to resurrect and exalt themselves by trying to kill and destroy their “Judas” rather than waiting for God to avenge, resurrect and lift them up as Christ did. As one Pastor said well of such God-given (but rarely welcome) lessons:
As soon as you pick up the sword the lesson ends.
— Pastor Kevin Davenport, Saddleback Covenant Church (Mission Viejo, CA)
Yes, transitioning Ex-Mormon, an injustice has been done: You have been betrayed – and now your betrayers are out to crucify you! We acknowledge and validate that fact. However, there will be time enough for the sword later. The Mormon Church isn’t going anywhere, and we know where to find it because it’s a stronghold. But as Jesus said of strongholds:
No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house.
— Mark 3:37 (NKJV)
Binding the strong man and then plundering his house is going to take God given strength, wisdom and persistence! That’s why I encourage you to stay humble, submitted, and attentive to God’s lessons. You’ve been broken: Stay here for awhile, let others bind up your wounds then wait for them to heal. Be Christ not Peter. And always remember the words of Christ who not only said but also modeled:
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
— Matthew 23:12 (NKJV)
Gain strength and acquire wisdom. then, once you’re whole, strong, wise, and endowed with power from on high, you may1 hear this call: “Go forth and conquer in My Name!” If so, then pick up your sword and we’ll storm the gates of the LdS Church together!2
1 And you may not hear that call – which is absolutely fine too. Many Ex-Mormons after they’re whole, strong, wise, and endowed with God’s power simply close the chapter of their life called, “The Mormon Church” and walk the other direction never looking back. God calls who He will to what He will and not all are called to storm gates.
2 See Matthew 16:18 (NKJV) which says:
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
Credits and Acknowledgments
The core principles introduced in this article are expounded and expanded on more fully in Gene Edwards’ classic book, “A Tale of three Kings: A Study in Brokenness”. This book has been of great aid and comfortable to recovering ex-cultists for over three decades. It’s a riveting tale that can easily be read in one or two sittings (it’s only 105 pages long). You will find the Amazon page for Mr. Edward’s book here. I simply can NOT recommend this book highly enough. I know that’s it’s a cliche but this book truly is a lifechanger and a must read!
“The Lord will fight for you. You just keep still.”
Exodus 14:14 (CEB)