I have a good friend who shared with me, today, a letter. It was a form letter describing the correct process to have one’s name removed from the records of the church, sent by the Member and Statistical Records Division of the Church. This person was informed that “the Church considers such a request to be an ecclesiastical matter that must be handled by local priesthood leaders before being processed by Church employees.” The recipient of the letter was urged to “reconsider your request and to prayerfully consider the enclosed statement of the First Presidency.”
The enclosed glossy pamphlet is as follows:
As viewed from the inside, there are several reasons that are generally attributed to one who leaves the church:
Can’t live the standards of the church
Sin has removed our ability to partake of the spirit
Offended by others in the church.
As you can see, this myth is propagated in this message from the First Presidency. The call is for those who are offended, or for any other reason, “outside the embrace of the Church” to come back. What are the reasons so many people are leaving the church today? I would suggest that, based on my anecdotal analysis, these are the primary reasons:
The sanitized history as taught by the church does not accurately represent the historical facts. (How can the church be true, when it doesn’t accurately represent its history?)
The rituals of the church offer no spiritual edification. (The rigors of the Sunday schedule and the demands of the true blue Mormon do not fulfill the innate spiritual needs of the members.)
The church has taken positions that are considered contrary to the love and acceptance imbued in the teachings of Christ. (Yesterday, it was the color of one’s skin; today it is the likely genetic disposition toward homosexuality.)
I would suggest that the traditional reasons (sin, smoking, and offense) for leaving the church are more likely to cause one to become inactive. The rationale as to why a person would take the active steps to remove their name from the records of the church are likely more deep seated and motivating (implied deceit, lack of spiritual gifts, and participation on politics.)
Each of us must choose our own path. Jeremiah and Lehi lived under the same circumstances but were led to different roles. Jeremiah stayed in the midst of an apostate Jewish nation. Lehi became an apparent apostate and left. They were both following the word of God – personal revelation.
In our circumstances today, there may be those who are led to stay within the ’embrace’ of the Church. There may also be those who are led to flee and appear as apostates. While I may have looked with sadness upon those who left the ‘true’ church a decade ago, today I look upon those same people differently. I see them as willing to ‘sacrifice’ their comfort for their conviction. The Church has, in this case, pitted father against son and brother against brother.
But I also believe, that there are those who, as Lehi, are led by their reliance on the word of God to take a different path. There are those believe that there will be a remnant that will come out of this church to carry the true gospel forward. I have posted numerous times about the rejection of the gospel by the modern day Gentile church. (3 Nephi, chapter 16).
To stay in the church regardless of the cognitive dissonance requires patience and long suffering. To leave the church likely means a nearly complete dismantling of your social environment. Neither is easy but either may await those who have come to see the reality gap that exists in today’s church.
The statement here is that the responsibility of the church to each individual is to ensure that all are “remembered and nourished by the good word of God.” Not to beat a dead horse but… how is the construction of a multi-billion dollar mall supporting this responsibility? Will Christ, upon his return, look favorably on the ‘mutual compatibility’ of temple square and Nordstroms?
Finally, I must take issue with the idea that one be in the embrace of the Church and apparently not Christ. The invitation above seems to only, in passing, strike at the core message of the gospel. The church, as has the federal government, gone well beyond that original charter. For the bloated autocracy that is represented in the COB, I would suggest that the original message is found in D&C 19:31
And of tenets thou shalt not talk, but thou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior, and remission of sins by baptism, and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost.
Another key reference is found in D&C 10:
67 Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.
68 Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.
69 And now, behold, whosoever is of my church, and endureth of my church to the end, him will I establish upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
I would gladly give up the ’embrace of the church’ for coming unto Christ. Unfortunately, I can’t see how one can do both at the same time under the current circumstances.
What think ye?