I wish I could attend this upcoming conference. I’m grateful to those making the effort to broadcast portions of the conference live. Years ago, it was easier for me to get to the various lectures, symposia, conferences and fellowship gatherings. Life has become much more complicated. Click on the image on the left if you are interested in learning more about the conference to be held in Mesa 24-25 March 2018.
Another upcoming event that may be of interest to some, especially those in the Southern Utah area is a regional fellowship gathering to be convened 20-21 of January 2018 in Parowan. The invitation is posted publicly on Facebook and I’m sure you will be welcomed. Living in Southern California all my life, I’ve treasured the times I have been able to get to events like these. I’ve come to appreciate the value of fellowship among those who hold the same beliefs.
Fellowship in the Last Days
Two friends have asked me to answer a few questions publicly and share some thoughts on a difficult subject. This last day of the year seems like an opportune moment to do so. They have to do with why I continue to identify with or associate with the remnant movement and how this has affected my marriage. The question on marriage was, “How can I make my marriage work when my wife and I no longer believe the same things about the LDS Church?”
I made a very public statement a few years ago that got a lot of attention, at least among the LDS blogging community. I decided to get rebaptized after reading Denver’s books and attending a series of lectures on the gospel. In the early days of the LDS Church, it was a common thing to get rebaptized. Today, if you do so, you open yourself up to discipline from those who preside over your local congregation.
In my case, having served in numerous local leadership councils and not wanting to go through that process, I simply resigned my membership in the LDS Church. I don’t mean to imply I did so without much soul-searching and prayer. I spent many a night on my knees envisioning the ramifications of what I was about to do. My greatest concern was how this would affect my marriage. At times I was certain my wife would divorce me because of my decision.
The Rest of the Story
I was baptized over three years ago. Before I tell you how I think it’s going, let me add some background in response to my other friend’s questions. He asked me to record my thoughts in video format to post on the blog, Zion’s Return. I’m pondering that request. I did a video interview with KUTV a few years back about the LDS Church cracking down on bloggers. It’s funny how news organizations can ask enough questions to record a half hour of footage but only use two or three five-second snippets. I invite you to visit Zion’s Return.
Question One: “How did you come to find out about what the Lord is doing today and about this movement?” That’s an easy one to answer. I was standing in the Celestial room of the Los Angeles temple about six years ago when a friend asked me what I thought about Denver Snuffer’s latest book, Passing the Heavenly Gift. I said, “Denver who?” He repeated the name. “Never heard of him,” I said. End of conversation.
But the name stuck with me. Over the next few weeks, often while praying, that name would pop into my mind. I love to read about LDS Church History. Carol and I have a large library. I inherited many books from my parents who at one time had an LDS book store. I was in the habit of adding new books about the LDS Church to my library on a regular basis. Finally, after about three weeks, I bought the book on Amazon.
A Book that Changed my Life
Question Two: “What brought you to the point of feeling like something was missing in your spiritual life/journey?” I suppose I always had this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that something wasn’t quite right with what I was being taught in the official curriculum and what I was reading in the books in our family library. My mother loved biography. She was a public school teacher and read voraciously. I’m fairly certain we had every biography published about the prophet.
Even after forty-five years I can still remember raising my hand in response to a question in seminary, responding with what I had read in one those biographies and receiving a blank stare from the teacher. She seemed a little uncomfortable. Finally, she said, “no, that’s not right,” and proceeded to read the official response from the approved curriculum. I asked my mother about it when I got home. Wisely, she asked me, “Well, what do you think?” I said I thought the teacher was wrong. “I’m just glad you’re reading, son.”
Living With Cognitive Dissonance
I learned to keep my thoughts to myself, or more accurately, I learned what the expected responses were to the typical questions and what the sources were for those questions that always come up when studying church history. I kept thinking if I just study harder I’ll understand things the way they were explained in the Sunday School manuals I taught from and the Institute manuals from which I later studied. I went on a mission, got married in the temple and began thirty-five years of service in Elder’s Quorum Presidencies, Bishoprics, High Councils, High Priest Group Leaderships and finally as the Stake Financial Clerk.
I saw the book had arrived when I came home from work a day or two after ordering PtHG, started my usual quick perusal of the book and ending up reading it until two o’clock in the morning. I simply could not put it down. Here was someone who had done the research, presented the evidence and let the reader draw their own conclusions. My prayer that night was one of the most memorable of my life. I knew my life was going to change forever. I finally had my answers. The cognitive dissonance lifted from my mind. I literally felt encompassed in light. This was not the first time I had experienced such a thing, but never this powerful.
Standing on Top of the Wall
Question Three: “What is the greatest blessing you have received since going [into] this movement and / or hearing the message the Lord is delivering in our day?” Again, another easy question. I have received a baptism that will be recognized when the angels begin to sweep the earth with the foretold destruction and, just as important, I have received a covenant that allows me to join with the Saints when they gather to Zion for protection from the events of the great and terrible day we read about in Matthew 24.
Because these answers may seem so out there, I sometimes feel like Samuel the Lamanite standing on the wall of Zarahemla. Let me be clear: The baptism to which I refer and the covenant I mentioned are not administered in the LDS Church today. Another blessing I hope to receive in time, if I live long enough, is to enter a temple to receive instruction directly from the Lord about walking in the paths of heaven. “But Tim,” I can hear you say, “You’ve already had those blessings since you were endowed in the LA Temple over forty years ago.”
The Process of Readmission
Question Four: “What insight/understanding do you now enjoy that you didn’t have before and how has that impacted your life?” I’ve been labeled crazy, deluded, deceived and possessed of a devil. My bishop at the time of my resignation wrote in his formal letter of response that went to my file in Salt Lake: “I fear your blindness has come from looking beyond the mark (Jacob 4:14).” He also noted that because I was under discipline for apostasy, approval from the First Presidency would be required for readmission.
I think the greatest insight or understanding I have received and now enjoy is the confidence of knowing my path is pleasing to the Lord. That is one of the things Joseph taught we must know to exercise faith in God. Carol and I have talked several times about starting that process of readmission to the LDS Church. While I enjoy attending sacrament meeting with Carol each Sunday and especially enjoy singing in the choir, I have felt there is no way I could write that letter to the First Presidency. There are still too many things taught in the LDS Church that I consider doctrinally damning, such as the concept of keys and authority.
The Reality of Baptism of Fire
Question Five: “Have you had any significant personal experience or witness that you can share that may benefit someone else who is seeking truth? * A witness that God answers prayer? *Baptism by fire? * Pivotal experience that shaped your spiritual journey?” This is a tough one, mainly because relating events from your life you consider sacred can be and are easily misunderstood. I still like President Packer’s analogy of explaining spiritual experiences to someone who has never had one: “My friend, spiritually speaking, I have tasted salt and you have not. I am [not] able to convey to you in words how this knowledge has come…” If you want some fascinating responses to this anecdote, Google “Packer Salt Story.” Especially read the Reddit post.
However, unless two people share the same spiritual experience such as Joseph and Sydney, there can never be a complete unity or common understanding of what just happened. I know. I have tried on many occasions and in many posts on my blog. One is the baptism of fire I experienced when I was just seventeen. You can read it but may come away with only a cursory understanding that I had a nice long prayer and felt good when I was done. Yet, to me, it was a baptism of fire, pure and simple. I knew I had been in the presence of the Lord. I heard the voice of the Lord declaring I was His son, begotten of Him that day. I make no claim to having received the Second Comforter at that time nor any other promises or blessings besides forgiveness.
The Power of The Covenant of Christ
Question Six: How has your worship and relationship with God, your family and/or others changed because of the added truth you’ve received? Hmmm…while Carol and I have always read, studied and taught from the scriptures (we both taught seminary), we have implemented a practice of reading aloud and teaching each other from the scriptures every single night. Up until a few years ago it was hit and miss. We’d go for a few months then peter off. I treasure these nightly sessions of reading and teaching each other as the highlight of my day. Of course, I slip in insights gained from reading Denver’s commentaries. We’ve had some especially interesting discussions lately about what it really meant for the Savior to lay aside his glory, his exalted status.
There are some subjects we don’t discuss because they are too painful. For example, imagine how Carol feels as a fifth generation Mormon believing all her life that the highest LDS goal is to marry in the temple. She felt terribly betrayed when I resigned from the LDS Church. There are still bitter tears when the subject comes up in Sacrament meeting or especially when we read something about marriage in the scriptures. My relationships with others have changed. I am much more interested in people I work with every day, and how I can serve them. I attribute this directly to rebaptism and acceptance of the covenant of Christ at the September conference. Once again, let me express how grateful I am to those who arranged for me to participate from home.
Time to Fish or Cut Bait
Question Seven: “Is there a particular book or talk that impacted you profoundly (of Denver’s) that you can tell us about?” Well, I’ve already related my experience in reading Passing the Heavenly Gift. I suppose lecture ten in Phoenix / Mesa was profound for two reasons. It was the conference where Carol and I parted ways in our response to Denver’s message. Denver had gone out of his way to invite us to have dinner with him and his family before one of the lectures. Carol attended several of the lectures with me, but could not handle what she heard in lecture ten. So, it was a bittersweet experience for me. Here’s why:
On the drive home from the lecture, as Carol napped through the California desert, I had a long talk with the Lord about what had just happened. Lecture ten was not like the others. It was time to take action. I heard it clearly. I think Carol also felt it but was not prepared, and still isn’t, to make the kind of changes that were brought up at that last lecture. I knew I needed to show the Lord I believed his servant by an outward sign, the ordinance of baptism. This was a deep, profound, and thoroughly life-changing talk. By responding as I did, I knew I’d be laying everything on the line, all because I heard the voice of the Lord tell me the words of his servant Denver were pleasing to him, and required action if I wanted to continue to grow and progress spiritually.
The Lord of the Vineyard
Question Eight: “How [have] your family, friends and other relations been impacted by this, and how do you deal with that? Why are you willing to risk everything for what you are learning?” Interestingly, my siblings have said nothing of my leaving the LDS Church. We still communicate regularly, get together occasionally and express our love for one another. My sister closest in age to me will be leaving to serve a mission in England in a few months. I recently had an interesting conversation with my niece about how millennials perceive the church. She sees so many of her friends who have left and attributes it to the stuff they find on the Internet. On the other hand, some members of Carol’s family are not happy with me and have told me so very clearly.
I knew this would happen. The Lord showed it clearly to me all those nights I was praying about it before I resigned. I am grateful to our local ward and stake leaders who continue to reach out to me with love, kindness and respect. I am still invited to and attend ward socials. I still sing in the ward and stake choirs and generally enjoy Sacrament meeting. The biggest impact this change has had on me is obviously on my marriage. Carol does not like it when I write in my blog, which is a major reason I stopped for so long and rarely write here anymore. You asked about risk. The greatest risk I face is in not doing as the Lord asks. He has asked me very plainly to do all I can to reassure Carol of my love for her and yes, be willing to apply for readmission if it is the only thing that will save my marriage. The Lord takes marriage seriously and so do I. Marriage is the fruit He labors to lay up in store.
The Gospel Brings Hope
Question Nine: “Why does all this matter so much to you?” I don’t think I’m any different from anyone else when it comes to the gospel of Christ. It should be important to everyone. What’s surprising to me is how many people can’t separate the gospel from the LDS Church. Even the thought is abhorrent to so many who have opposed what I have shared on my blog. I can truly understand why Denver turned off comments on his blog years ago. I can only imagine the awful individual emails he receives from those who feel and express he has ruined their families. What a burden he must carry. I know a little about doing what the Lord asks, meaning, I have felt the displeasure of the Lord when I have been slow to hearken after I’ve asked for His direction.
This matters because it gives me hope. I have a goal in my old age to see Zion established, and that’s not going to come about through a large institution. The signs are becoming more and more evident that we are living in the generation that will see the return of the Lord. I rejoiced when I heard that a temple is to be a part of this effort to establish Zion. I want to contribute to the building of that temple. I want my name to be in the book that will be presented to the Lord when the temple is completed. I am grateful to know there literally is a book being kept and that my name is in it today. That baptism is so essential. Oh, how I wish more people understood this. I am saddened by but understand why so many can’t separate the gospel from the LDS Church.
Receiving the Higher Priesthood
Question Ten: “Anything of your background, briefly, that may have been worth noting at the beginning that would enhance what is shared.” There’s no way I can condense ten years of blogging into ten questions. I started my blog with the intention of providing sensible answers to all the misinformation about the LDS Church that was popping up on the Internet. Along the way I kept finding more and more legitimate questions being asked by young people who had real concerns about what they were reading in newly-available historical records and what they were being taught in the official curriculum of the LDS Church.
There’s a lot to love about what this great institution has accomplished, but it became obvious, at least to me, that something very basic was missing. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it so, like so many others, I put my concerns on the shelf. If I had not read PtHG I would probably still be serving somewhere in the Stake as a clerk, which for some reason I seem to do well, probably because I manage computer networks for a living. Two fundamental things changed. I realized open revelation had ceased with Joseph Smith. I also came to understand the priesthood very, very differently. The Higher Priesthood is not received the way it is taught in the LDS Church. It must come by hearing the voice of God declare it unto you.
Concluding Thoughts on Marriage
To my friend who asked for advice on how to make his marriage work when he no longer believed as his wife, I can only offer the following: Put yourself in her shoes for a minute. Don’t forget that a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated. Being right is not as important as being kind. I’ve referred to it earlier and I’ll reiterate it here. If the Lord were to ask me to apply for readmission to the LDS Church. I would do it in a heartbeat, especially if it would bring happiness to another, in this case, to Carol. I have received baptism in the way I believe the Lord has asked and have accepted the covenant of Christ as it was offered.
I can’t imagine the LDS Church asking me to deny or retract the covenant I have made with Christ, can you? It seems to me one should be able to worship and fellowship in the LDS Church or the Baptist Church or the Presbyterian Church or any fellowship that acknowledges Christ. A man can believe what he wants in the LDS Church. I’ve heard some pretty crazy things over the years from someone everyone would consider an orthodox member. Knowing what I know now about keys, I can sustain the Brethren. In fact, I do so every time we have a stake conference. I can pay tithing to the LDS Church but I would pay it differently than I have all my life because I understand it differently now. But who am I to give advice on marriage? Go talk to the Lord.
Update: The Video is up on YouTube. It’s about thirty minutes: https://youtu.be/_MD6wlP4LAA
As an alternative, I’ve also posted it on my domain site here: http://3tcm.net/TimMaloneStory01012018.mp4