5 Things to Never Forget if Your Loved One Leaves the Church

5 Things to Never Forget if Your Loved One Leaves the Church

I have dear friends who have stepped away from the Church. We are still friends now, some closer than others, but it hit me hard when they told me they were no longer a part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This article highlights some things that have helped me still stay close to them while staying true to what I know. Do you know someone who has chosen to step away from the Church? It can be heartbreaking and confusing, especially if you are very close to them and you are an active LDS member. All hope is not lost. Far from it. Here are five things to never forget if your loved one leaves the Church.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted on The Returned Missionary, and has been republished with the author’s permission. Find the original here and don’t miss the comment conversation on this same article at Meridian Magazine.

1. Respect their journey. It’s not that simple. 

Sometimes when someone we love goes away, we automatically assume that they are leaving because of sin or laziness or because they have been offended. I would be very careful about slapping on a blanket explanation for why someone has chosen to leave. Give them the benefit of the doubt. I honestly like to believe that every single person is honestly doing the very best that they can with what they know. Truly. Maybe sometimes it is because of the above reasons, but for many it is not. Don’t oversimplify their reason for leaving, especially if you are talking to them about it.

Albert Einstein’s journey was different from Michael Jordan’s journey. But if we judge Einstein’s life by his ability to play basketball or Michael Jordan’s life by his ability to do quantum physics, we will see both of them as failures.

image via drawception.com
image via drawception.com

Respect their journey because it is as hard for them as your journey is for you. We are all on a very unique journey in this life. Don’t oversimplify the journey of another. Consider these words from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf:

The search for truth has led millions of people to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, there are some who leave the Church they once loved. One might ask, ‘If the gospel is so wonderful, why would anyone leave?‘ Sometimes we assume it is because they have been offended or lazy or sinful. Actually, it is not that simple. In fact, there is not just one reason that applies to the variety of situations. Some of our dear members struggle for years with the question whether they should separate themselves from the Church. In this Church that honors personal agency so strongly, that was restored by a young man who asked questions and sought answers, we respect those who honestly search for truth. It may break our hearts when their journey takes them away from the Church we love and the truth we have found, but we honor their right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience, just as we claim that privilege for ourselves. 1

2. Don’t condone a choice you don’t support, but show love no matter what.

True friendship doesn’t mean you have to accept the differing practices and beliefs of your friends. You may have to stand up for what you believe in a very bold way. You may choose actions that will naturally cause you to spend less time with your loved one or friend, but if you genuinely love them, you will be blessed and they will never forget your love. Just like you have agency, so do they. You should never try to force anyone to choose something. God doesn’t, and neither should you.

At the same time, your love for them doesn’t need to be expressed by loving their behavior or their expressions of what they now embrace, instead of gospel standards that you embrace. You don’t have to love their lifestyle if it is contrary to the standards you stand up for and live.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has spoken about still loving them while holding to our own values:

While reaching out to and helping back a lamb who has strayed, we also have a profound responsibility to the 99 who didn’t—and to the wishes and will of the Shepherd. There is a sheepfold, and we are all supposed to be in it, to say nothing of the safety and blessings that come to us for being there. My young brothers and sisters, this Church can never “dumb down” its doctrine in response to social goodwill or political expediency or any other reason. It is only the high ground of revealed truth that gives us any footing on which to lift another who may feel troubled or forsaken. Our compassion and our love—fundamental characteristics and requirements of our Christianity—must never be interpreted as compromising the commandments. As the marvelous George MacDonald once said, in such situations ‘we are not bound to say all that we (believe), but we are bound not even to look (like) what we do not (believe).’ 2

Remember that Jesus loved everyone. He dined with publicans and sinners. He touched the untouchable and talked with those who were “worthy of stoning.” He held no grudge when the ones who rejected Him wanted to come back. He didn’t condone that which was contrary to His gospel, but His arms were always open to receive those who came to Him. He is the Lord of the outstretched hand. And even if your loved one never returns, you can keep your hands outstretched with love. You will never regret truly loving someone. Even if you don’t have your membership in the Church in common with them anymore, there are still many things you can find in common that you can still connect on, if you desire to stay close to them.

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear.” (1 John 4:18)

250x300 LYM2

3. Doubt doesn’t have to be dangerous.

God believes in You

This event will likely trigger doubts inside of you because you love that person and you naturally consider the thing they have accepted. It’s okay to have doubts. Doubt doesn’t have to be dangerous.

If you have ever had a question about something in the Church, you’re normal. We all have questions, especially you returned missionaries who have faced thousands of questions and doubts from all the people you contacted. Now you don’t have a badge on and it’s not your full-time job to defend it like it was as a missionary. When doubts arise, don’t just ignore them and pretend they aren’t there (fearing that you may go down the wrong path if you acknowledge their existence). Face the doubt, but make sure to remember a few things as you do:

1. Keep the commandments while you figure out the thing you are questioning and do all you can to bring the Spirit into your life. What did you do on your mission when some doubt popped up? You studied the scriptures, prayed, asked your leaders for help, and then wrote down the answers that came. I know too many people who as soon as they start to have doubts, they somehow feel that it justifies doing whatever they want until God shows them the answer. The fastest way to get an answer from God is by doing things that will bring the Spirit, not the other way around. God is the Father of our spirits and that is how He will communicate with us, especially if we have doubts. Don’t forget this. And go read 1 Corinthians 2:9-14. Seeking the Spirit is not ignorance to intellectualism or an admission to naiveté. God is the most intellectual and intelligent being you could ever communicate with and He wants to show you all truth, and He will if you seek Him. I also would recommend a chapter titled “Reason and Revelation” in Dallin H. Oaks’ book called The Lord’s Way. This chapter helped me to see that reason alone, without revelation (or spiritual guidance), is incomplete, just as revelation (and spirituality) without reason is incomplete.

2. Read and ponder The Crucible of Doubtby Terryl and Fiona Givens. This is probably one of the best resources (in my opinion) for facing real doubts as Latter-day Saints. It not only helped me to resolve a few concerns I had with specific issues, but it also helped give me a new way of seeing. They say in the book: “Questioning is not the problem…After all, the Restoration unfolded because a young man asked questions. The difficulty arises when questions are based on flawed assumptions or incorrect perceptions, which can point us in the wrong direction, misdirect our attention, or constrain the answers we are capable of hearing.” If you are currently in a “spiritual pickle,” and sincerely seeking, you won’t be able to put this book down.

3. Even in the moments where you feel like you don’t believe in God, remember that, even if you don’t believe in Him, He still believes in you. You’ll figure it out, and He will be patiently waiting for you whenever you sincerely reach up to Him again.

Read more about why doubt doesn’t have to be dangerous here and here.

4. Lovingly expect mutual respect for each others’ beliefs.

I have friends and family who no longer associate themselves with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One thing that has helped both of us to maintain a loving relationship is a mutual respect for each others’ beliefs. Like President Uchtdorf said above, we need to respect their God-given agency that allows them to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience. We also have the agency to cultivate our religion the way we choose and to worship God the way we desire to worship. If you feel like you have to jeopardize your personal religion and the relationship that you have with God in order to continue a relationship with this person, choose God first. But I believe in most cases, you don’t have to choose. I believe most of our friends and loved ones will gladly respect our choice to worship and believe the way we desire, especially if we show respect for their choices.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks explains this delicate balance masterfully in a speech he gave on religious liberty at a Utah Valley University:

In this country we have a history of tolerant diversity—not perfect but mostly effective at allowing persons with competing visions to live together in peace. We all want to live together in happiness and harmony. We all want effective ways to resolve differences without anger or contention and with mutual understanding and accommodation.

There are points of disagreement between those who insist on free exercise of religion and those who feel threatened by it. Similar disagreements exist between those who insist on nondiscrimination and those who feel that some of its results threaten their religious liberty. There are no winners in such disagreements. Whatever the outcome in one particular case, other disagreements persist, and we are all losers from the atmosphere of anger and contention. In this circumstance of contending religious rights and civil rights, all parties need to learn to live together in a community of goodwill, patience, and understanding. We need to reawaken the “bonds of affection” that President Matthew Holland showed to be essential to the founding of our nation—“broadly shared ideas of biblical love, artfully refashioned into a guiding public principle.” We need such broadly shared ideals.

To achieve our common goals we must have mutual respect for others whose beliefs, values, and behaviors differ from our own. This does not expect that we will deny or abandon our differences but that we will learn to live with others who do not share them. It will help if we are not led or unduly influenced by the extreme voices that are heard from various contending positions. Extreme voices polarize and create resentment and fear by emphasizing what is nonnegotiable and by suggesting that the desired outcome is to disable the adversary and achieve absolute victory. Such outcomes are rarely attainable and never preferable to living together in mutual understanding and peace. 3

5. God’s Salvation is More Liberal than You Might Think.

Not all those who wander are lost - Tolkien
image via TheReturnedMissionary.com

Don’t lose hope. If you are the parent or brother or sister or best friend of someone who decides to leave, there is hope. A lot of hope. I would be very hesitant to let yourself think that they are “never going to make it” if they don’t shape up sometime soon. Heaven forbid they die before choosing to see the light again. Well, actually heaven doesn’t forbid this, and it has happened before. I’m not one to place judgement on someone who has gone astray. But I am one to have absolute faith in the Savior’s incredible ability to save all who desire to be saved, now AND in the afterlife. Consider this reaching statement by Joseph Smith:

Before (the earth) rolled into existence,…(God) contemplated the whole of the events connected with the earth…(God) knew…the depth of iniquity that would be connected with the human family, their weakness and strength,…the situation of all nations and…their destiny,…and (He) has made ample provision (for mankind’s) redemption4

He has made ample provision for the redemption of all mankind. Here is Joseph Smith again:

“Our heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive.” 5


I believe in the Jesus who taught the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard. Some few in this life will labor from the morning until the evening, righteously, diligently and in all uprightness before the Lord. I commend them for this effort and for this great labor, and their labor is not in vain. However, I believe that there will be many, likely a majority, who will be “hired” by the Lord in the eleventh hour. Those who stood all the day long without laboring, until the Lord personally came to them, inviting them to labor for Him.6 And they too will receive the same wage as those who labored from the first hour. I believe in a God of mercy who offers those who stood around all day, but who desired to work in the end, the same penny. I believe that precious penny is eternal life and that He will mercifully give it to anyone who desires it, early or late.

For whatever reason, this makes some devout members of the Church uncomfortable. God is perfectly comfortable with an abundance of mercy for the late-comers or the never-comers (in this life), who come unto Him in the eleventh hour.

And we should actually take comfort in the fact that Mormons in mortality don’t have a monopoly on truth or salvation. This is uncomfortable for many members to think about as well, but it’s true. Here are the Terryl and Fiona Givens’ words on this:

A problem related to perceptions of Mormonism’s monopoly on truth is the impression that Mormons claim a monopoly on salvation. It grows increasingly difficult to imagine that a body of a few million, in a world of seven billion, can really be God’s only chosen people and heirs of salvation. That’s because they aren’t. One of the most unfortunate misperceptions about Mormonism is in this tragic irony: Joseph Smith’s view is one of the most generous, liberal, and universalist conceptions of salvation in all Christendom.7

Like Joseph Smith said, for whatever reason, many members of the Church are not ready to believe that God will save those who choose not join the Church in this life or those who join and then step away from the Church. I’m here to say that He can, and He will, if they still desire to be saved. And I don’t say it alone. I stand with prophets and apostles from Joseph Smith to Paul.8

God does not look upon sin with the least degree of allowance, but those who truly desire eternal life, in this life or in the next, will have it. Whether they are Buddhist, Baptist, Bahai, Jewish, Roman Catholic, Agnostic, Muslim, Mormon or formerly Mormon — if they desire eternal life, they will have it. I love the words of Brad Wilcox when talking about the final judgement scene with Christ:

“In the past I had a picture in my mind of what the final judgment would be like, and it went something like this: Jesus standing there with a clipboard and Brad standing on the other side of the room nervously looking at Jesus. Jesus checks His clipboard and says, ‘Oh, shoot, Brad. You missed it by two points.’ Brad begs Jesus, ‘Please, check the essay question one more time! There have to be two points you can squeeze out of that essay.’ That’s how I always saw it…But the older I get, and the more I understand this wonderful plan of redemption, the more I realize that in the final judgment it will not be the unrepentant sinner begging Jesus, “Let me stay.’ No, he will probably be saying, ‘Get me out of here!’

“Knowing Christ’s character, I believe that if anyone is going to be begging (at the final judgement), it would probably be Jesus begging the unrepentant sinner, ‘Please, choose to stay. Please, use my Atonement—not just to be cleansed but to be changed so that you want to stay.'”9

Remember that God knows them much better than you ever could. He is not only their judge, but their advocate and has provided ample provision for the personal plan of salvation of everyone who has ever lived. This is the God I believe in and the plan of salvation that every person who leaves the Church deliberately chose to support before coming to earth. Remember these things and trust in God’s promise that everything will work out in the end. Don’t lose hope.

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Show 9 footnotes

  1.  Come, Join with Us. October 2013 Conference. Italics added.
  2. From his talk Israel, Israel God is Calling, given in 2012. Italics added.
  3.  See the full text here. It’s worth the read.
  4. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 220. Italics added for emphasis.
  5.  Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 257, 240–41.
  6. See Matthew 20:6-7 (1-15 is the whole parable).
  7. Emphasis added. PP. 91-92 in the chapter “Mormons and Monopolies: Holy Persons Ye Know Not Of” in The Crucible of Doubt.
  8. See 1 Cor. 6:9-11.
  9.  His Grace is Sufficient.
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Andy Proctor

Andy is the creator of TheReturnedMissionary.com and the co-creator of LDSmissionaries.com and of HappyMormons.com. He served a mission in Chile and was a Spanish teacher at the Provo MTC for a few years before he graduated from BYU. He loves doing online missionary work after working in the internet marketing industry. He graduated from BYU in 2009 after living in the Holy Land and studying at the BYU Jerusalem Center. He is the author of a new book for RMs, called ​Live Your Mission: 21 Powerful Principles to Discover Your Life Mission after Your Mission, which is the first book in the L​ive My Gospel​ book series. He is a regular contributor to Meridian Magazine and has been featured on the Mormon.org blog as well as LDS Living and Deseret News. He is married and can't wait for the kids to start dropping from heaven.


  1. Every member should read this. It might help to bring those back that have left the church. I am a return member. I stayed away for over 40 years. I went to other churches seeking but when it came down to the bottom line ,I knew in my heart and prayers where I should be. I attend church by myself. My husband is not a member. But as I look around in church on Sunday mornings I see other members in the same position. First major step is not to be judgemental of others. Thank you for this information. Sister Pam Willis Lake Charles Louisiana Ward)

  2. I was unable to save my mission due to the family issue, but i like the the messages of return missionaries… I have been working with missionaries in my branch, and really see how good it is when you are serving our Heavenly Father by bringing people to a true church..

  3. I agree every member should read this… BUT not to try to bring those people back. Every member should read this and follows Christ’s example, period. You can’t love with the goal of getting someone back into the church or it shows.

    • The “lost sheep” description is patronising – many of us are not “lost”, did not “lose” our testimonies, are not broken.

      Remember, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

  4. Having family members myself who are not choosing to be a part of the church, I definitely agree that there is still hope for them. And yes, our concept of salvation is more universal than many Christian churches, if we consider salvation in the sense that most of God’s children will inherit a degree of glory. However, the concept that God will save all who “desire” it, if we are talking about exaltation and eternal life, well, that is not scripturally supported. The Savior himself said, “Strait is the gate and narrow the way that leads to eternal life and few there be that find it.” There were those in the Book of Mormon who desired to be saved IN their sins, not from them. Scripturally, we read that their day of grace had passed for they desired that which was contrary to the plan of happiness. So while I love and have hope for my family members, and know that God will be more merciful than I can probably comprehend, I also know that “mercy cannot rob justice” and we will be judged not only on our desires but also our thoughts, words, and works. We are admonished repeatedly that now is the day of our salvation, and we must press forward in Christ, enduring to the end. The idea that “God shall beat us with a few stripes and at least we shall be saved in the kingdom of God” is not God’s doctrine.

    • Jessica, thank you for sharing your thoughts. What you have posed has allowed me to think even more deeply and study more about this than I would have if you hadn’t disagreed. For this I am truly grateful.

      There must be order. Mercy cannot rob justice. Absolutely. I hope that this article was not seen to be a sort of “get out of jail free” card for those whose intent is to knowingly sin. In the end, the law of restoration will be in effect. Alma 41 is probably the best place to study this. We will all ultimately receive what we desire like Alma 41 teaches and in the end we will be able to see ourselves so perfectly that we will be our own judges. Like Elder McConkie said: “man is his own recording angel in a very real sense. That is, his thoughts, words, and deeds have a direct and discernible effect on his body. By compliance with a telestial law, a man creates a telestial body; terrestrial and celestial bodies are created by compliance with those respective laws.” (Mormon Docrtine p. 621) And John Taylor taught: “Man himself is a self registering machine, his eyes, his ears, his nose, the touch, the taste, and all of the various senses of the body are so many media whereby man lays up for himself a record which perhaps nobody else is acquainted with but himself; and when the time comes for that record to be unfolded, all men that have eyes to see, and ears to hear, will be able to read all things as God himself reads them and comprehends them, and all things, we are told, are naked and open before him.” (Gospel Kingdom p. 36). According to these statements, we will be our own judges because we will somehow have the power to see the record that we have created (in our bodies). It is like the Book of Mormon also says (in multiple verses), that we will be given a perfect knowledge of our good works and our sin. We will stand “naked” in every sense of the word and more than a judgement where God slaps down a score for our mortal life, of all the deposits that we have made into some “heavenly bank account,” I believe it will be a composite of what we have become. Elder Oaks also believes this: “The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become.” (The Challenge to Become, Oct 2000) So I really believe that it is about what we truly desire. What I would like to find more scriptures and prophetic teachings about is when the final reckoning will actually happen, because like Elder Maxwell says “When the veil which encloses us is no more, time will also be no more.” So if time is no more, then why would we be judged based on things that are time-bound? (especially if we are also judged based on our keeping our first estate “before” this life in which realm we were also not time-bound)? I know the scripture that I quoted to people on my mission almost daily: “Now is the time and the day of your salvation…this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yeah this life is the day for men to perform their labors…do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can no labor be performed. Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.” (Alma 34:31-34) It clearly says “the day of this life” but what does it mean to “improve our time” and when does the “night of darkness” actually begin for all of humanity? (especially if 99.99% of all humans ever living were only able to act according to a lesser light without the fullness of the gospel). If all those people have the chance after this life to “improve their time” enough to make it to the celestial kingdom, then I don’t see why faithful members (who are sinners and are imperfect as we all are) or those who have fallen away wouldn’t have the same chance, if they desire it. I believe that it really is based on our desires in the end and that if the atonement transcends time backward, how could it not transcend time going forward as well and allow for all of God’s children, who truly desire to become something better, to do so. There is no way that this life is the only chance we have to do this. How could this be if billions upon billions will need to have the chance after this life to become what they need to become in order to qualify for eternal life? There is no way this is the case. That is why I believe that God doesn’t just have a plan for those who never knew about the gospel to progress after this life, but for anyone (including members who have gone away from the Church), to have a chance, after the veil has parted for them and they no longer see “through glass darkly.” There must be a leveling of the playing fields. I don’t believe in a deterministic God who only wants some of his children to be able to come to the highest degree of the celestial kingdom. I believe in a God who is not time-bound and who has made, like Joseph Smith said “ample provision” for the salvation of all His children, during and after mortality. I may be out of line in my opinion, but I truly believe that the atonement allows God to be more merciful than we could ever imagine as time-bound mortals. I believe that what we are becoming matters far more than our words, acts and thoughts (though these are very interconnected). But I love what C.S. Lewis says about this correlation between our thoughts actions and words and our becoming… “Christians are told not to judge. We see only the results which a man’s choices make out of the raw material. But God does not judge him on the raw material at all, but on what he was done with it. Most of the man’s psychological makeup is probably due to his body: when his body dies all that will fall off him, and the real central man, the thing that chose, that made the best or the worst out of this material, will stand naked. All sorts of nice things which we thought our own, but which were really due to good digestion, will fall off some of us; all sorts of nasty things which were due to complexes or bad health will fall off others. We shall then, for the first time, see every one as he really way. There will be surprises. People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, ‘If you keep a lot of rules I’ll reward you, and if you don’t I’ll do the other thing.’ I do not think that this is the best way of looking at it. I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of way and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.” (Mere Christianity pp 91-92) I believe that “central self” that C.S. Lewis talks about is what we are becoming and that this self will, over the course of innumerable choices (before and after this life), arrive to one or the other of these states of becoming. This is why I think it is just a bit more complex than just our words, thoughts and deeds, but the affect of those, mixed with our desires, upon that central self that chooses and that passes beyond the veil when time is no more. This is what I believe. There are ordinances to perform with the correct authority on both sides of the veil, but after the ordinances are done, there is a whole lot of journeying of the soul (or becoming) to do if we really want eternal life, or the life that God lives and I think that it is possible for anyone who truly wants this, to have it. Like Elder Bruce C. Hafen said: “we can have eternal life if we want it, but only if there is nothing else we want more.” (The Atonement: All for All, April 2004)

  5. I was a single parent of a girl and two boys all three as I did joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- Day Saints I am the only one who is still a member. My daughter doesn’t believe in God, my oldest son left the church to become a member of another church, & my youngest son just admitted to being baptized in another church. We don’t push each other’s beliefs on any of us. In fact my youngest son got baptized in another church at 17 without my knowledge. I do not love them any less than I did when I was raising them. All I can do is pray for them and be glad that I raised them to be their own person. Even the one who got me into church is no longer a member and that had me questioning myself if I should leave too, but I prayed about it and I will remain. No matter what they are still my children. I Know my daughters two oldest kids are Christians. I Will not turn my back because like it said we all have free will.

  6. I am so glad that I was guided to read this article. It has reaffirmed my feelings about loved ones who choose to leave the church. I feel that we all have our free agency to choose what we will believe. I am much happier having a loved one who chose to leave the church but who still loves our Father in heaven and His Son, and obeys the commandments than having them stay in the church with all kinds of doubts and struggling to keep active. I have vowed right from the beginning of all this to continue to love our loved one with all my heart and to pray for them unceasingly.

    • Thanks for sharing Ellen. It is a difficult journey, but in the end I believe love really is the most powerful force for good like you said.

  7. True and godly repentance is possible even in the eleventh hour. The Savior is the author of that parable, it is doctrinal, and I believe Him. Joseph Smith knew God’s doctrine, had the heavens opened up to him, and more importantly, knew the character of God far more intimately than anyone on earth. And again, I believe him. I believe that “we see through a glass darkly” no matter how much we claim to know God’s doctrine; too many of us, if not most of us, still fail to know His character. Even at our best, the love we have for others as oppose to the love God feels would be like comparing the heat emitted by a cigarette lighter as oppose to the heat emitted on the surface of the sun; incomprehensible and, really, ridiculous to try and compare. “Mercy cannot rob justice” but Christ already met the demands of justice for all who truly repent, even those who truly repent in the eleventh hour. Who am I to question that? Certainly I wouldn’t want to be guilty having the same attitude the “good and faithful” son was guilty of having in the parable of the Prodigal’s Son. I believe in Christ and not only do I believe in Him but I believe Him. I believe Joseph Smith. I believe Lorenzo Snow. I believe Marvin J Ashton. I believe Jeffery R Holland. Let certain members be “uncomfortable”. A little discomfort is needed for growth.

    • Cindy, I agree with you wholeheartedly in that those who truly repent will find mercy. That is doctrine. I’m not disagreeing with that. Nor do I presume to judge anyone. Only the Lord can do that. And I’m fully aware that we do not understand the love the Lord has for us. He will be as merciful as He can, but He will still also be just. The scriptures tell us so. The only thing I was “uncomfortable” about in this article was the idea that all who “desire” to be saved will be. That is not doctrine. We are judged on our desires, yes, but also our works, as the scriptures repeatedly state. The scriptures talk about us needing to repent now before the “night of darkness wherein no man can labor.” There is a reason for that warning. As far as the parable of the prodigal son, knowing that the Lord expects us to do our part in order for us to attain exaltation is not taking the attitude of the older brother. It is simply stating that, even in that parable, the younger son’s inheritance was still spent and gone, and that was a consequence that was not reversed simply because he was welcomed home. That was my only point.

  8. As a former member of the LDS faith…a RM at that – I appreciate the message you are trying to share. The decision to leave the faith was one that wasn’t overnight…it was years of struggling with doctrinal questions etc. I held a temple recommend and attended the temple up to 2 weeks before I cut ties…so it wasn’t like I was committing sin or not doing all the things that I was supposed to be doing. However, in the end…I didn’t feel like this was the path I nor my family was supposed to be on. It has been painful and hurtful to see how we have been treated because of our decision to leave. I don’t expect everyone to be on the same journey nor receive the same answers from God. I know that goes against everything that is taught from an LDS perspective…but if you truly believe in personal revelation and that Christ saved all of us then you will allow your loved ones to do what they honestly feel is right for them…and God will have the final say. I can’t imagine God is going to condemn me for doing what I honestly feel is right. Anyhow, you don’t have to understand our journey, but please respect our journey.

    • Thank you for posting this Rachel. I really appreciate hearing your perspective and I believe that members do need to hear where you are coming from. God will have the final say and in this life we see through glass darkly and that after the veil has parted, we will all see more clearly (members, former members and non-members alike). And God has made ample provision for each one of those groups. This is what I believe. 🙂

  9. I am so Thankful for reading this as it lets me know those who are not attending the church will still be able to Return to there Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as they know Our Spirits and Souls . I know the Church is True and The Book Of Mormon is to I know the Holy Bible is Ours Heavenly Father and Jesus Prophets who walk with Jesus when he was upon the earth . Our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ walks with his Prophet and Apostles today and even as I’m not able to go to church I am so Grateful to go to church on the BYU channel Amen .

  10. Andy? I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this article. I am a member who has left and you have said, what I have felt, so perfectly. I do still love my Heavenly Father and do know that he loves me, and that he always will. That has never wavered for me.

    I also believe that every member should read this. But for understanding only. We do desire to be respected, for NO ONE’s journey is easy. For the most part, I don’t think we expect others to condone our choice. At least I don’t. It’s mine and mine alone to make. Doubt? This is where I smile. I do not doubt my Heavenly Father, but I still have made the decision I have. Mutual respect is something that every person should be able to expect. Active, inactive, non-member, doesn’t matter. I have always believed that, “God’s salvation is more liberal than you might think.” And like you said, how with all the billions on earth now, and the billions who have lived before, could only the “elite” of the Latter Day Saints be saved? No, I believe our Heavenly Father’s plan is far more vast than any of us can possibly imagine. Will I ever return? At this time, I do not know. But this I do know, if more members could embrace these thoughts, the road back would be paved with love. Thanks again for your loving, caring words.

    • That means a great deal to me that you posted this comment. I still love you, and God sure as heck does too. Your journey is your journey and God understands it much better than any one else in this world, member or non-member. Stay close to the Lord and in the end, you will be okay. This is sure. 🙂

  11. My wife sent me this article as we struggle right now with going thru my journey of drifting away from the church. His article has really helped her see that it is possible to see the gospel of Jesus Christ taught in a different light then what Joseph Smith taught. With no intention of arguing, I must agree with some posts here that justice must be satisfied. Andy you seem like a good soul who cares a great deal for his fellow man, but simply claiming that this is what you believe doesn’t make it gospel. As I drift farther and farther away from what I was taught and taught others, I begin to see an even more forgiving Father and Son. One who accepts with open arms all who seek after him, mistakes and all. This is not what the Church teaches, as much as I or we hope it would. There are degrees in which exaltation is gifted or “earned” and the LDS gospel teaches that to be with God, the right choices and ordainences need to be completed or no entry. These can only be found in the LDS gospel. Again, as one who is drifting, I loved your concepts and genuine love you have, but as I read, I couldn’t help but see past the sales pitch of gods love and skirt past the hard truth that non-LDS will not be accepted into the Father’s presences. A concept I just don’t believe in.

    • Thanks for respectively adding your viewpoint Luke. I wish you well in your journey and I do believe that in the end we will all be able to find the truth if we seek it. What I hope to portray here at least is my belief that if anyone has not had the chance to really see the truth for what it is and accept it, then they will still have a chance. And I believe the LDS culture and popularly accepted views of the masses of people in the church, are who teach an unforgiving Father and Son, not the doctrine. This is why I quoted Jeffrey R. Holland (who was quoting Joseph Smith) when he said that “Our heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive.” This is not what the mainstream lay member teaches and this is part of the reason why I wanted to publish this article. One of the challenges is that many people who have distanced themselves from the church, do so because of an understanding of what the Church teaches that they often base off of what lay members portray to be the doctrine, but that, if it were examined in more detail, would be found not to be LDS church doctrine, but the incorrect traditions that have just been passed down for generations. But the lay members and lay leaders of the Church (who in so many ways are the face of the Mormon Church) are not paid, nor are they “professionally” trained to be able to know the doctrine perfectly. The entire population of what makes up the majority of the Church are just unpaid volunteers who are just doing the best that they can. It makes a little more sense to me that incorrect traditions and false beliefs of what God is like (or about salvation or about any basic doctrine) can be taught. And that people (who don’t know that lay members truly don’t represent the doctrine of the Church) can be easily confused when an unpaid, volunteer who is a lay member of the Church, teaches something incorrect. Whether this person is an investigator of the Church or a new member or a member who has been around for 50 years, this can be confusing (and frankly, frustrating). This has happened to me. I have been an observer in a stake conference where the entire stake was being taught something that I do not believe. And in a tone that I completely disagree with. It was hard for me to know that this was being taught. If I didn’t know where to seek the truth and that the stake presidency was not the ultimate source of LDS doctrine, I could have easily said: “I don’t believe in this” and chosen to walk away. But I know that I can go to other sources for the truth that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches. It’s much harder and takes more effort, but it is still the doctrine that I believe. I don’t feel very comfortable with the culture of the wards I attend. But I still have both feet planted in the doctrine I believe this Church teaches. I wish you well in whatever path you choose and I know you’ll be fine because you are a sincere seeker of truth.

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