This is the final edit of the interview conducted by Dr. Jana Riess on 2 October 2020. She is writing a book about former Mormons. Obviously she can’t put everyone’s story in her book, and in fact, she may use none of this, but I include it here for my own record. This is my story of why I resigned my membership in the LDS Church after a lifetime of active membership. Actually, as I point out in the end, I still consider myself a Mormon.
Full name: Tim Malone
Name preferred for use in book: Tim
Date of interview: October 2, 2020
Telephone or in person: Phone
How interviewee found: Google Forms
1. Demographic questions
Current age: 63
Year you were born: 1957
In which U.S. state do you currently reside? California
What is the last grade or degree that you completed in school? Associate degree
Racial identity or background: White
Married, single, widowed, divorced, cohabiting? Married
If married, divorced, or in a relationship: Is/was your partner LDS?
Yes, she is currently LDS
Heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or other? Heterosexual
Birth order in family of origin? Youngest of 7
Where did you primarily live growing up? California
Did you grow up LDS? Or were you a convert?
My family joined when I was five, so I grew up LDS.
In what year, and at what age, did you stop identifying as LDS? I resigned in 2014 at age 56.
Did you serve a mission? Yes
Have you received your endowment in the temple? Yes
What is your occupation? Network engineer
Do you have any children? If so, what are their ages? One son, who is 38 years old
2. Church experiences
Tell me about your family and their involvement with Mormonism.
We were Presbyterian at first. We went to church every Sunday. That is, everyone except Dad, who had to work most Sundays. My mom was raised a Presbyterian; she taught Sunday School when she was growing up. She is a teacher, as was her mother before her. My dad had been raised a Baptist, and he joined the Presbyterian church when he married my mom. So mother was very devout, a firm believer in Christ; she knew the Bible and she taught Bible stories in the public school. She was a public school teacher. I remember going to the Presbyterian church with my sisters when I was little. We would go to place like the Hollywood Bowl on Easter Sunday for the sunrise service. She loved the music. So I grew up with a lot of Christian culture, I guess you’d call it. Famous paintings from the life of Christ, and lots of good music. Things like opera and Broadway musicals, and of course music from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, even though she wasn’t a member. She loved the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
So that was before we became members of the church. After we joined the church, I remember attending Primary classes on the weekdays, Sunday School, and sacrament meeting. In those days sacrament meeting was in the afternoon.
Dad didn’t always make it to the morning session because of work. But I remember when my brother was ordained to the priesthood, I would watch him pass the sacrament, wishing I could do that. My dad wasn’t able to baptize me because of work, but he confirmed me the next day.
Do you know why they joined the church?
My mother, as a teacher in California, was influenced by her school principal, who was LDS. She also had some students who were LDS. She tells the story of a little girl coming in for sharing day wearing her white dress that she was going to be baptized in that night. I think she was looking for something more. And so her principal invited her to church, told her where it was, and she grabbed all the kids and we all went.
What was the age range of all you kids?
I had one brother who died in infancy. There’s a ten-year age span between me and my oldest sister.
How about your dad? Was he very religious?
I think he was uncomfortable with the formalities of religious worship. Participating in ordinances was not something that he grew up with. He was not very expressive, and had a hard time finding words to say what he meant. He did not pray eloquently, and would usually defer to Mother to teach us and lead us in prayer. However, Dad was very social. He was a cook in the Navy, so he loved to help out with ward socials and cook for large crowds. I have lots of happy memories of ward socials, white elephant bazaars, Pioneer Day celebrations, things like that.
Were your parents married to each other through your whole childhood? Was there any incident of abandonment, divorce, or death?
They were married to each other all during my childhood. [Now deceased]
What did you like and dislike about growing up in the Church?
I liked the music. I loved the music! I also liked the doctrine. I think I was a little different, I guess, from a lot of the other kids. My mom was very much into education and learning. Doctrine was something that she loved to discuss. So I liked listening to the talks. Believe it or not, I liked listening to the high councilors! I didn’t mind going to church every Sunday; I enjoyed it. To be honest, there’s very little I disliked. One thing I’ll say is I disliked how much some of my peers would not take things seriously, what was going on in worship services. Boys would sit on the back row, lean back on their chairs, and laugh and talk. I just never did that.
What was it like to be a Mormon at your high school?
There were less than a dozen Mormons. I enjoyed seminary; I went to early morning seminary for three years. It wasn’t something that we talked about openly. Religion was not discussed, I guess, at school.
What teachings about sexuality did you absorb in Mormon culture? Did you find those messages helpful or unhelpful, and in what ways?
The teachings of sexuality were probably introduced in my youth, mainly in private with interviews with the bishop, from what I remember.. In public, I don’t think that they had the sort of talks that they do nowadays, so there wasn’t much talk about sexuality at all, other than in private interviews. I do remember discussions about masturbation. I do not recall any discussions about homosexuality. That simply wasn’t prevalent when I grew up in the 1970s.
Was there anything else you wanted to tell me about high school?
I think one of the favorite memories I have of those high school years were the summer vacations where we visited temples. We did family history research in the courthouses in the cities where my ancestors had lived and died. I have pictures of me in old cemeteries marking the graves with chalk. I remember going to Salt Lake City and looking up courthouse records and census records on microfilm. My mom was an avid genealogist, and we spent a lot of time together as a family working on family history. Books of Remembrance, and things like that. I think our life pretty much centered around the LDS Church and the temple from an early age. My mother loved the temple. I think in one year—this was in my high school years when my dad was not working due to a disability—they literally performed 500 endowments that year. By the time my mother passed, she had 30,000 ordinances that had been performed for individuals that she had researched.
My sisters went to BYU, and both graduated from BYU. Nobody else in the family did. And my oldest sister worked for the LDS Church for most of her adult life, in the temple department. She assisted in the process of clearing names for the First Presidency, for the restoration of temple blessings. She previously worked for Elder Cook, and then spent the last part of her career there as Elder Perry’s secretary.
One more thing. I remember about this time getting my patriarchal blessing. I was about fifteen and a half. I was asked by the bishop to fast, and I don’t think I had ever fasted seriously before then, so I did. My sister and I both got our patriarchal blessings that day. I think the patriarch was inspired. I enjoyed his words, and I still read them. The blessing was fulfilled, with many promises that I think have been fulfilled. Especially, he mentioned that I would serve in a leadership capacity in the church, and that I should prepare! You could say that to anybody, but I took it to heart.
As a family at first, we read the scriptures every day, and prayed out loud as a family for the first few years after we were baptized. But later, as we all became busier, the habit just fell away. I guess that’s why I appreciated early morning seminary, because that helped me to study the scriptures, since we didn’t study them in our family any more together.
Where and when did you serve a mission?
1976 to 1978, in Central America.
Why did you decide to serve a mission?
Because in a stake priesthood meeting, they showed a video of President Kimball, I think when he spoke to the regional representatives. He explained his vision of “Go ye into all the world.” As I sat there, I thought, “I guess I’m supposed to go on a mission.” We had never talked about it as a family, but I felt impressed that that’s what the Lord wanted me to do, so I did.
Did you have any older siblings that had served?
What did you like most and least about your mission?
I think I had a rather rude awakening on my mission. I loved the gospel, and I actually loved to teach. I inherited that from my mother. And it kind of shocked me to learn that some of my companions were not so excited about learning and teaching, and the fairly rigorous effort required to be a good missionary. I even had one companion who refused to go up to the doors with me. I don’t know what his problem was, but he just didn’t really have a testimony. He later told me that he only went on a mission because his father had promised him a pickup truck if he had completed his mission, which he did.
We were in the canal zone in Panama, and had access to telephones. He would call his girlfriend every Sunday.
I loved my mission president, who was later a general authority. Joseph C. Muren. He was also a teacher, an educator, in the CES [Church Education System]. I had a lot of respect for people who made that their career. Still do. He was very motivating, and would illustrate gospel principles by having us act them out in zone conferences. He knew how to get the missionaries involved in understanding how the work should be done.
Would you say your mission was a positive experience?
Absolutely, 100% positive. A foundational experience of my life.
What did you do after your mission?
I came home and went to school. I got an associate’s degree in computers, and went to work, because there were so many jobs available for computer people. Of course, you’re supposed to come right home and get married, but it took me a few years. I actually worked so much that I took two jobs. I worked weekends, so for about six months to maybe a year, I did not make it to church on Sundays.
How and when did you meet your wife?
After a year of not attending church regularly, I prayed one night and told the Lord I didn’t feel I was getting the spiritual nourishment I needed, And he told me, “That’s your own fault.” So I quit one of my jobs to go back to church. As soon as I got there, the bishop grabbed me and said he was calling me to teach Sunday School, and then the stake called me to be a stake missionary, all within a couple of weeks of coming back to church. I was also, I guess, involved with Young Adults during this time, which is a great program the church has.
Also, I had moved into another ward from the one I grew up in, and just about the time that I started going back to church, my wife came home from her mission. I was dating her best friend, and back in those days, they had Mormon Night at Disneyland. My wife was invited by her best friend, my girlfriend at the time, and we went as a threesome to Mormon Night at Disneyland. And Carol and I hit it off right away. She had just come off her mission, and we talked a lot about being missionaries. And my girlfriend just kind of sat there and fumed. So for the next couple of months, we went to Young Adult activities together—firesides, beach parties, softball games. There was always plenty to do for Young Adults. One of the great advantages of the church is social interaction.
Carol is a baseball fan, a Dodgers fan, so she got some tickets and invited me to come after work. I met her at Dodgers Stadium. She likes to keep score in the program. As we were watching I happened to mention that I had given her best friend a dozen roses. I watched as Carol made a heart in her program, and then made it a broken heart. Up until that time I had no idea how she felt about me. So that night, in my prayer, I asked Heavenly Father if he thought I should get married,. And of course the answer was yes. So the next day, I went to visit Carol in her home. She was packing. She was going to go back to her mission and visit the people she loved back there in Independence, Missouri. So I talked her out of it. I said, rather bluntly—and remember, we had never dated before, other than group dates—“I feel like I should ask you to marry me.” She of course was rather shocked. I said I wanted to fast and pray about it, and come back tomorrow after church to maybe have dinner and talk. We did, and she said yes.
How did the other woman take it?
I had already had what I thought were engagement pictures taken with me and that girlfriend, and a day or two later I found a packet with all those photos I had given her on my doorstep. However, since she was Carol’s best friend, she was also her maid of honor.
Were you married in the temple?
Yes, the LA temple. I was 26, maybe 25.
What was your first experience like in the temple?
I loved my first temple experience. I was endowed at 19, just before I went on my mission. My parents drove me to the temple. My mother gave me 2 talks to read as I sat in the backseat—these were CES talks about the temple. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I had already read them, but it helped us in our dialogue about the temple. I grew up with my parents going to the temple all the time. I knew the routine, how much time it took. Temple clothing was not a mystery. I understood the terminology of endowments and sealings, and I had participated in baptisms for the dead.
On that first day, we went through two sessions together, and we also went back the next day and did two more. I was not surprised at all. I had read much about the temple, so it was not a shock. It was kind of what I had expected. Later in life, when I was on the stake high council, I would teach the temple preparation seminars. I wish they had had those when I was growing up, but I got them from my parents. Later in life when I read about so many people being shocked by their first temple experience, I guess it kind of surprised me. I was lucky to have parents who made that so much of our family growing up.
Continued being active in the church? What were those years like for you?
Happy. Years of service. Years of learning, of teaching, of growing. I think I was always either a teacher or a counselor in elders quorums and in bishoprics. So I think I served for 20, 25 years in various bishoprics or on the high council.
Is there anything else you would like me to know about these years, in the period before you began losing your belief in Mormonism?
I’d like to share one experience. Back when I was at Ricks College for a year before my mission, I guess I was struggling with discipline. I wasn’t a very good student, not until I got back from my mission. I did enjoy the classes from religion teachers—we were required to take a religion class every semester. I had a great Book of Mormon teacher, Dr. Keith Sellers. Very inspired, everyone loved his class. We were also required to go to the devotionals every Tuesday, though a lot of my roommates didn’t go. But I did. I had a particular experience at one of those devotionals, when the speaker was Elder LeGrand Richards. I was sitting in the top row of the auditorium, and at first I was just listening politely and then something started to happen. Elder Richards was a great extemporaneous speaker, and he told the story of his time as a mission president in the southern states, and he essentially encapsulated A Marvelous Work and a Wonder in about 35 minutes. I hadn’t read it by then, but I did afterwards. As he was speaking, I was deeply affected. I felt animated in my spirit—excited, enthused. I thought, “This guy really knows his stuff!” He was able to speak in a very convincing manner about the restoration of the gospel, and about Joseph Smith and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. His enthusiasm affected me greatly in a positive way.
So that night in prayer, as I thanked the Lord for what I had heard, I felt impressed that I needed to deepen my own testimony so I could teach like he did. So I told the Lord, “I will.” The next day after classes, I went out in the cold to a field near the dorms where I could be alone above the city of Rexburg and knelt down to pray. I think I prayed for nearly half an hour, the longest I had ever prayed. Nothing happened, but I also felt like I needed to make a greater effort, a more formal effort with fasting and prayer. So I fasted the next night, and then the next night my roommate announced that he was going to a dance and would be gone for many hours. It was a perfect opportunity, so I knelt down in prayer and for 3 hours I struggled in prayer. I guess I was looking for reassurance from the Lord that he loved me, in spite of my feelings of inferiority that I wasn’t a very good student, but I wanted to know what he thought of me.
I won’t go into all the details, but at the end of the 3 hours, I rose a changed man. I felt that my prayer had been answered. I knew who I was, and I felt I knew who the Lord was. I knew that he loved me, and I had a vision in my mind’s eye of what he wanted me to do with my life. I feel like I experienced a mighty change of heart. I believed on that night that I had been born again. I knew the Lord lived. He had spoken to me, and I heard his voice. It was not audible, but I heard it in my heart and in my mind. He quoted scripture, and he directed me to search the scriptures. He invited me to become more knowledgeable of the things of eternity. I felt an overflowing love burning from head to toe. It was a real experience. I have heard President Oaks say that he had never had a feeling of “caloric” or heat in his bosom, but I had. I just wanted to share that because although that was a totally subjective religious experience, to me it was a foundational religious experience of my youth, and I still think about it 46 years later.
3. Loss of faith/decision to leave
When did you first begin to doubt, or to lose your faith in Mormonism?
I think it started when my mom gave me the book No Man Knows My History. Fawn Brodie was not a happy camper. She did not have a lot of respect for Joseph Smith. Although this wasn’t my first introduction to polygamy, this was the first time I thought “How is it possible that Joseph should receive such revelations and also be an adulterer?” That was the beginning of my wonderings. I was probably 16.
Why did your mother give you that book?
My mother was an intellectual, and she loved to discuss the gospel. She wanted to know what I thought of it. She was also an avid historian of LDS history. Later in life, because she hadn’t grown up with it, she felt she had to take all kinds of Institute classes. She graduated from Institute as an adult. My mother had not grown up with the Book of Mormon as I did. In fact, she heard it for the first time when I was learning to read, as we read it together. She would line out every occurrence of “And it came to pass.” She said that wasn’t good grammar.
That was my first feeling of “There’s something wrong. Joseph couldn’t have been an adulterer and had those visions.” After I got back from my mission, I read a lot. In the same way that my mother loved to collect LDS books—we had hundreds of them in our home. She actually opened an LDS bookstore, thinking that everyone would love to read history as much as we did. It closed after 9 months. But that’s the environment I grew up with, a love of learning and teaching. Learning is important to our family, and to me. So after I got back from my mission, I bought a lot of books. I was working, and making a lot of money, with no family to support, so I indulged myself by building a huge library.
I didn’t have as many books as my mother did, but I had maybe 50 books that were not considered faith-promoting, like The Maze of Mormonism by Walter Martin. Again, as I read through the exposés, as though they were experts on polygamy in the early Nauvoo era, it really bothered me. I just couldn’t believe that Joseph would teach in public against polygamy, “I only have the one wife,” and yet according to the church records—and you can go on the church website and look at the dates for when his wives were sealed to him—that was also during this period. So something wasn’t right.
It continued to be a conflict in my mind, something I had to put up on the shelf for many, many years. During these years I a) got married b) started a family c) was successful in my career and d) was very active in the church. I taught the gospel every Sunday. I accepted every calling.
I did not struggle with a lot of things that other people did, like other areas of the history of the church. I read; I studied; I recognized that there were differences of observations by different people of the same subject or event in history. I was able to reconcile the different versions of the First Vision. I had no problem with the way the Book of Mormon was translated. The seer stone in the hat did not bother me. I feel like the Lord just dictated it to him, and he was receiving revelation as he dictated the Book of Mormon. I had no problem with that. But this idea of polygamy just bothered me.
Were there other specific issues or doctrines that led you to leaving the Church?
It kind of bothered me that the church was really good at business. I don’t know how else to explain it. I would read the articles that came out about the big financial disclosures and wonder why the church was involved in all of these businesses. But I had a lot of respect for the leadership in the fact that a lot of them came from the business world, so of course they’re going to use their skills in managing the church. But it wasn’t a big deal to me. Not like polygamy was.
Was there anyone you could talk to about these questions?
That’s a great question. At one time, when Carol and I were in the stake president’s office and he issued a call, Carol happened to mention, “Well, I don’t know. Tim has all these anti-Mormon books.” And the stake president said, “Well, you should burn them.” So I did. I must have burned about $500 worth of books.
I felt that I was a pretty smart guy, and that I could handle this. And that I would continue to pray, and ask the Lord to lead me to answers. By this time of course the Internet was out, so I was visiting all kinds of websites that had alternative explanations for historical events. And I always seemed to focus back on what was going on in Nauvoo. I started blogging in 2007. I started that with the intent of helping people like me who were finding negative stuff on the Internet, and for about 4 or 5 years my blog grew and grew, and I was able to share with hundreds or thousands of people what I believed was a faithful, and faith-promoting, explanation.
However, every time I got to the subject of polygamy, especially Joseph’s wives, I struggled. I would write in my early essays that Joseph was threatened on the point of a sword by an angel, that if he did not enter into plural marriage, he would be struck down. I also accepted and parroted the story of Emma, or at least Brigham Young’s explanations of Emma, in that he said she was damned and cursed, and that Joseph would have to go to hell to get her. But that really bothered me. I mean, the Lord had said she was an elect lady, and that’s the way I looked upon her, as an elect lady.
I have resolved my concerns about polygamy. I’ve come to a different understanding about what the church teaches about what happened in Nauvoo. This is where I really began to lose my faith in the LDS Church. Through my own studies and prayers, I came to believe that Joseph was telling the truth, that he never had sexual relations with anyone other than his wife,. And yes, there were sealings of other women to Joseph in his lifetime, that he did or had someone else do under his direction, but Joseph was using the sealing ordinance to build his family in eternity as he understood it.
I need to share one other experience in prayer, in preparation for my mission. I would have been 19. I felt a strong need to have a strong testimony of Joseph Smith because I was going to go out and spend 2 years sharing his message. I believed Joseph was a prophet and he had received a message, and that message was the Book of Mormon. For me to go out for 2 years in Central America, knocking on doors and testifying of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, I needed to know from God that he was legitimate, that he was truly a prophet. I chose one of my books that my mother recommended, a D&C commentary from Hyrum M Smith and Janne M Sjodahl, and I spent two months reading every single explanation of every single revelation in the D&C.
I prayed about them; I studied the background and the history and came to understand why these revelations came forth. And when I had completed the book, I said, “I’m going to have a prayer experience like I’ve never had before. I had had the great prayer experience at Ricks that I told you about, but this time I fasted for 3 days. I continued to work and study each day. On the afternoon of the 3rd day, I was feeling rather weak. I took literally the invitation to go into my closet, and I knelt in prayer. And began an earnest petition to the Lord to bear witness to my soul of the truthfulness of the message of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. I did not have to wait more than 30 seconds. I guess it was the fasting that made me more in tune, more susceptible, to the voice of the Lord.
I felt an immediate burning of the bosom, and heard in my mind what I believe was the voice of the Lord saying “Tim, most of what you have read really happened, but not all of it.”
I said, “What part of it was not true?”
And then the next moment, I heard another voice—not audible, but in my mind and in my heart—say, “You will never fully understand all that I passed through in this life. It can only be understood from this side of the veil.”
And then into my heart and mind I was given to know that this was Joseph Smith. And so I was done with my prayer, like “OK, thanks!” I got my answer. I didn’t tell anybody about this. I later found that I had opportunities to share my testimony and teach of Joseph Smith from the pulpit, and when I shared that story in particular, I was approached by bishops and others saying, “you might not want to share that story,” and I could not believe they would say that. I mean, don’t we believe in personal revelation? So I stopped sharing what I felt were spiritual experiences in my testimony and in my teaching.
So back to how I resolved this issue of polygamy: I continued my blogging efforts; I corresponded with a lot of people about church history issues and one individual asked if I could review her book for her. I did, and I was astonished at how directly it answered my every question about Joseph Smith and polygamy. It was called Joseph Smith Revealed: A Faithful Telling: Exploring an Alternate Polygamy Narrative by Whitney N. Horning (Author), Vernon Roy Horning (Illustrator). I was impressed by her testimony that Joseph Smith did not teach or encourage polygamy, and I became convinced as well. She also brought out some facts about the early days in Nauvoo that I hadn’t read before, mainly because they came from the Community of Christ as opposed to the official narrative of the LDS Church—specifically, that Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball and John Taylor and a few others believed that plural marriage was a higher form of marriage. They believed this, but Joseph did not. He did not teach this. In fact, when Joseph died, Brigham had one wife that he acknowledged, and four that he had already married. Joseph did not have relations with these other women who were sealed to him. They were not wives in that sense. So I became convinced that the LDS Church was not telling the truth about how polygamy got started.
How long did the process take between the time you first began experiencing doubts and when you stopped considering yourself a member?
One night, in the LA temple Celestial Room, after a stake temple endowment session, one of my readers, a friend in the stake, asked me what I thought about Denver Snuffer. I said, “Denver who?” And he said nothing more. I kind of forgot about it, but it kept bugging me as I prayed, that I was supposed to look up this guy. I did after a couple of weeks, and found a book on Amazon. I decided I would read it (Passing the Heavenly Gift), and it addressed a lot of these historical questions in a positive manner that allowed me to resolve them. It also led me to believe that this guy had some good things to say, and that I wanted to learn more. So I bought all of his books, and I read them all, and blogged about them. I got a lot of feedback, both positive and negative.
About this time, Denver was excommunicated because of Passing the Heavenly Gift. This would be around 2012, to 2014. Just as he was excommunicated, he announced that he was going on a lecture circuit of ten lectures. I attended a number of them, and Carol went with me to several. She came to the last one in Phoenix. However, as he began to talk, she became more and more uncomfortable until she walked out. I, on the other hand, was filled with a sense of amazement, like I was hearing a message from the Lord. He talked about baptism, and he said that is a sign to the Lord that you accept a message from his messenger, which is the definition of a prophet. I thought about it all the way home from Phoenix, and told Carol I was going to get baptized. You can imagine what kind of response I got. I also announced it on my blog. Because I was serving in the stake presidency at the time, I felt I had better resign, so I did. I was baptized a week later.
You can imagine how Carol feels about Denver Snuffer. She calls him BS. She tells me he’s a false prophet, and that I need to repent and be rebaptized into the LDS Church. You can imagine how hard it is for her. She feels that I turned against our marriage covenants in the temple.
But you are still married?
Yes. We still read the Book of Mormon together every night, and pray together every night. We would go to church together every week if we could.
Have you ever officially removed your name from the rolls of the Church? Why or why not?
Yes. Back in September of 2014. Being very familiar with the process, having been a ward clerk. I simply wrote the letter and emailed it to my bishop and my stake president.
What was it like telling your parents, siblings, spouse, etc., that you were leaving the Church?
My parents were both deceased by the time I resigned from the LDS Church. Carol knew I was going to be baptized and I like to think she understood my logic that if I was going to be baptized, that it would be best to resign my membership in the LDS Church. But she was hurt, very hurt by my decision. Lots of tears, lots of prayer on her part for me, and lots of anger directed toward Denver Snuffer and “those people” with whom I had associated as I attended the lectures and in small groups afterwards. At one time Carol, who is a writer, started working on a book she titled, “I Married an Apostate,” and I even encouraged her to tell the story from her point of view but as far as I know, she hasn’t gone past a few opening chapters. I wouldn’t say she has gotten over it, but that she has accepted it, since it has been over six years. But I know she is not happy with it, at all.
I told my siblings in an email, but I don’t think it either registered or I’m not sure they cared. Not one of them has ever brought it up since the day I told them, and we are all still very close. Three of my siblings are not active LDS and have not been for most of their adult lives. My two sisters who are active LDS have been as kind and loving as they have always been. The fact is, it has simply never come up since I told them. I suppose that’s because my lifestyle has not changed. I still go to Church with Carol, still read the scriptures with her, sing in the choir (when we were allowed to have choirs here in California) and still take the sacrament with her each Sunday. The only difference is not going to the temple (when we could), and not attending priesthood meetings, even though I was warmly invited.
Do your friends and family members still try to convert you back to Mormonism?
Not particularly. I have met with several bishops over the years, each time our ward boundaries changed, and we got a new bishop, there was the initial meeting just to get to know me. They were, of course, aware of my situation, and were very kind in meeting with me and letting me tell my story, which I didn’t really elaborate much because it was clear they already knew the details. I feel the same love and friendship with local ward members because they are all good people who live the gospel and are not judgmental. The Elder’s Quorum President, who is our home teacher, goes out of his way to make me feel welcome at any meeting (although most meetings these days are Zoom only), and has made sure that Carol and I know we have an open, standing invitation to come to their home each Sunday to partake of the Sacrament, which we do. Before the lock-down, he would come to our home often to visit and encourage. He is a true Shepherd of Christ.
I have hundreds of regular readers of my blog (at one time thousands), some of whom did make an effort to reach out to me to help me while I was going through the process of studying the writings of Denver Snuffer and making the decision to resign from the LDS Church and be baptized. In fact, many readers reached out to me in comments, via text message and emails but I can’t remember even one being nasty, mean or condescending in any way. I always felt a lot of respect, a lot of kindness and a lot of love and prayers offered on my behalf. Mormons are good people, who love and care for one another, at least that has always been my experience. Of course, there were a few rude and ignorant people who wrote vile and nasty things, but that’s always more a reflection of their own state of mind and outlook on life. But clearly, the majority of my associates, both in the local ward and stake and in my online community, are loving and kind and respectful.
Have there been changes in how you experience your sexuality?
I feel the same as I always have, that I was born male and was meant to pass through this life as a male. I enjoy being male. I wouldn’t consider myself a man’s man and like to think of myself as sensitive to a woman’s point of view, because I grew up with four sisters and have been married to the same woman for nearly thirty-nine years. I would be nothing without my wife. She means the world to me. If anything, I see things a little differently now and believe I have come to appreciate some of the difficulties women face in both our society and especially in the church. It’s labeled “patriarchy” but I’m not sure that clearly defines the problem.
It’s a sense that women have growing up in the LDS Church that they are second-class citizens, whose voice does not have value. My mother struggled with this. She was a highly intelligent and competent woman who, I think was both intimidated by the men in authority in her life and intimidated the men who found themselves in a position of authority over her – bishops, stake presidents and such. She had a lot of run-ins with them and disagreed with the way they declared “this is the way it is” when she felt she had some additional understanding on the subject than they had. But back to your question, no, I don’t believe there have been any changes in the way I experience my sexuality since I resigned my membership in the LDS Church.
5. Post-Mormon Religious Life
How involved are you with ex-Mormon social media groups, support groups, podcasts, etc.? If you are, has this been helpful? Has your involvement decreased, increased, or stayed about the same over time?
I have never been very impressed with the ex-Mormon social media groups and support groups. I have read their material, listened to their podcasts, especially John Dehlin’s, but because I am politically very conservative, we don’t seem to have much in common. I did not find them to be of value in my spiritual journey. I still have a hard time reading some of the writings of the regular contributors to Times and Seasons and Wheat & Tares, again because of the obvious liberal or progressive slant, sometimes very blatant.
I have always been conservative, even to the point of being considered far right-wing, so there’s not much I have in common with some of the folks on these former Mormon support groups. I respect their intellectualism, their focus on education and higher degrees, but frankly, I find some of their viewpoints asinine because they live in such a different world than I do. I would say my involvement has not changed in that I still have their posts coming into my WordPress reading lists and still read them from time to time.
Are you . . ?
- actively involved as a member of another religion
- Interested in other religions, but not currently a member
- Not interested in joining another religion.
I am 1) not actively involved as a member of another religion, 2) Not interested in any other religions, other than when I learn something new that rings true, that is found in the teachings of other religions but not in current Mormonism, and 3) I am not interested in joining any other religions. I still consider myself a Mormon. I believe in the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith. I believe in the veracity of the Book of Mormon. I believe it is the word of God given to us in our day as a gift and brought forth by the Prophet Joseph as the main reason for his calling as a prophet.
Tell me about why you chose 1, 2, or 3, and about your religious life now.
I believe I am just as religious, if not more so, now, than I was before I resigned my membership in the LDS Church. I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior. I know they love me. I commune with them each day. I feel led by the Holy Spirit in my daily life. I pray morning, noon and night, pretty much all day. I feel I have a running conversation in my mind with the Lord as I go through the day. I discuss things with Him and feel His answers in response. Conversing with the Lord through the Veil is a very real thing. It seems as natural as having a conversation or dialog with you or any other individual. He is there, He hears me. He answers me. I know He loves me and cares about what I do, think and say. He is always encouraging me to do better, think better, rise up, elevate my thoughts, reach higher, try harder, be kinder, more patient, loving and longsuffering. In short, He shows me the way, He teaches me how to live and how to be filled with love.
What did you decide about the Word of Wisdom?
The only thing different here is that I believe one should use wine in the sacrament. Other than that, I appreciate and adhere to the restriction on tobacco, alcohol and such. I never did like coffee or beer even though there was a time in my life where I tried them. I don’t mind a bottle of wine every so often, but only with friends. I don’t like to drink alone. However, because of I know Carol is strongly opposed to it, I don’t buy or bring wine into our home. I can forego it until the day comes when it becomes self-evident that using wine in the sacrament is very symbolic and very sacred in what it should represent to us.
[If endowed] When did you stop wearing garments, and what did that feel like?
I did not stop wearing my garments. Still do. Nobody ever said I couldn’t. I’m still comfortable wearing them and often think of my many years of temple experiences as I put on a fresh, clean pair of garments each morning. I hold them sacred and a part of my private religious life. If a person of authority in the LDS Church told me to stop wearing them, I would probably tell them to go jump in a lake. It’s none of their business. My wearing of the temple garment is between me and the Lord. I’m grateful the LDS Church built temples and tried to teach what Joseph shared in the Red Brick Store. I think they have changed the ordinance and broken the everlasting covenant, but again, I am grateful for the part the temple played in my life growing up and as an adult member of the LDS Church for so many years. I love the beauty and the symbolism of the temple.
What did you decide to do about tithing/making donations to charity?
Carol and I have gone back and forth on the issue of tithing. I do not think tithing should be used to pay salaries of General Authorities or LDS Church employees, even though my own sister was an employee of the LDS Church for most of her adult working life. Carol still pays tithing on what she earns in her employment as a ghost writer. I think we still pay a generous fast offering because we know it stays local, but for the most part, I’m pretty sure Carol has not paid tithing on my income for the past six years. She does all the banking in our family. She knows how I feel. I think she honors my request.
What do you think will happen in the afterlife? Has that changed since you left the Church?
I think the afterlife will pretty much be what I have been taught and have believed all my life. I believe it will be a time of rejoicing, or reunion and of coming into the presence of the Lord. I expect the Lord to come in Judgement upon the earth, perhaps even in my lifetime and am doing everything in my power to repent, turn to Him in every thought, word and deed and to be worthy to come into His presence. I know I am a sinner and am in great need of His cleansing and healing power. I hope to enter into His presence before I leave this mortal life. I mean that literally. I believe this is possible and am doing all I can to be prepared for that moment. I hope to be sealed unto the Fathers, meaning the Old Testament patriarchs, from Adam, through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and including prophets like Enoch, Melchizedek (or Shem). I do lots of family history work in my spare time and have performed many sealing ordinances for my ancestors in the temples, but in the end, it is being sealed to the Fathers that prevents the world from being utterly wasted and keeps us from being burned at the coming of Christ. This is all literal to me.
Is there anything that you miss about Mormonism?
I miss the peace and quiet of the temples. They are beautiful. They are also expensive. I understand why the LDS Church has built so many, but don’t believe what is being taught in them represents what Joseph intended. His work was cut short. What Brigham instituted in the temples is a form of Godliness but does not contain the fulness that God intended. I believe there will yet be a temple built in Zion, in a place where the Saints can gather to be safe from the imminent destruction of this world as social chaos reigns and people are desperate for peace. It will only be found in Zion, an actual place where some few have gathered, where they have built a temple and where the Lord dwells with them. And no, I don’t believe this exists anywhere in Mormonism today. It is yet to come. I miss the fact that Mormonism used to believe and teach these things but no longer does.