A month or so ago I read that fifty percent of the young adults ages 18-35 are leaving The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If these figures are correct, this means that three of my six children will leave the church. At the present time, five of the six are active, participating members; however, some of my friends are not so fortunate.
Blogger Greg Trimble explained there are basically five reasons why people leave the Church: (1) They take offense, (2) they do not understand the doctrine, (3) they think being a member of the Church is just too hard, (4) they believe anti-Mormon literature, and/or (5) they sin.
Mr. Trimble stated – and I agree – that none of these reasons are good enough to risk eternal salvation. Mr. Trimble discussed the five reasons, and I would like to add my thoughts to his.
(1) Did you notice how I put this reason? I hope so because I did it on purpose. Each one of us was blessed with agency, the ability and responsibility to choose. Most offense is not meant to offend, but people are human. Most of us, at one time or many times, have said or done something stupid that affected someone else. We do not need to be offended even when offense is intended. We can choose whether or not we take offense at the thoughtless words or actions of other people. I have taken offense a few times in my life, but I have never blamed the Church, God, or even the person who “caused” the offense. I recognized that it was my problem and sought the reason why I took offense. In other words, I owned the problem and searched for the solution to it!
Mr. Trimble suggested that we ask ourselves an honest question if we take offense at something at church: “Do I get offended often in other aspects of my life?” Even though Jesus Christ and His church are perfect, none of the members have reached that level of development. There are weird people in the church just as there are weird people in the world at large. Mr. Trimble suggests that we use the opportunity to practice forgiving the person for being stupid.
(2) They do not understand the doctrine. There is only one way to learn the doctrine; that way is personal study. When we truly understand the true doctrine, we are not swayed by every wind of false doctrine that blows our way. We must start at the basics of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. We do not need to look far from the basics to find questions. If we our faith in Jesus Christ is strong and we regularly repent of the dumb things we do, we are guaranteed the assistance of the Holy Ghost. I know that we can know the truth of all things by the power of the Holy Ghost.
We cannot believe everything that comes over the Internet – and this applies to church doctrine. Millions of people are happy and satisfied with the church, and only a few are angry and upset. Mr. Trimble reminded his readers that the “Church is an open book…. [When people hear something they have not heard before], they assume that the Church has been lying to them or trying to `cover up’ what they’ve now learned. It couldn’t be farther from the truth. All of the things that `come out’ are things that the Church published themselves. It’s right there in Church publications. If the Church wanted to `cover up,’ they wouldn’t have printed it. Just because something isn’t emphasized in our everyday classes, it doesn’t mean anyone is trying to hide it from you. We just might not have enough information on the topic and it is therefore deemphasized in order to reduce confusion. People forget that the restoration is not complete. We are in the middle of it! Just hang tight and things will be revealed.”
(3) They think being a member of the Church is just too hard. God does require a lot from the members of His church. He expects us to earn the blessings that He bestows upon us. If you think it is hard to be a member of His church now, you will not like the future. Christians are already being persecuted and penalized. It will not get easier to be a follower of Christ. Joseph Smith taught, “A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.”
I have served in positions that required many hours each week. Serving as a ward Relief Society president (two years) takes approximately forty or more hours each week. Teaching early-morning Seminary (9 years) requires at least two hours of study for every hour in class. I worked hard at each of these callings and received many, many blessings as I did so. Not every calling requires this much time, but every act of service brings blessings.
(4) They believe anti-Mormon literature. Mr. Trimble stated the fact very clearly, “What you have to realize is that no anti-Mormon literature is unbiased. That is why it is called `anti’. Similarly, you’re probably not going to get an unbiased opinion from a devout Mormon as well. Christ underwent the same scrutiny. The anti that was published about Him would make even the most loyal follower of Christ question their Christianity. But we don’t give it much attention because we know that it was written by His enemies.”
Mr. Trimble and I suggest that if you come upon anti-Mormon literature and really desire to know if it is true, “research both sides equally and tenaciously. When I come across something `strange’, I research it and then sit on it. I ponder it. I don’t assume anything and I don’t jump to conclusions. I won’t make a rash decision on the matter. I consider all of the things that I currently accept and believe and then ask myself why I would be unwilling to believe the topic at hand.”
(5) They sin. Sin is real, and it has real effects on us. Sometimes it is easier to leave the Church than admit we committed sin. If we are looking for a way to “cover our sins,” any of the reasons listed above could be an excuse. For me, it is simply easier to admit my sin and repent.
These five reasons are merely excuses, and none of them are good enough to break our covenants with God. My patriarchal blessing tells me in five different places and five different ways that I should stay faithful. (1) I need to remain true to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in order for my blessing to be fulfilled. (2) “Let nothing cause you to become unfaithful in the Church.” (3) “God desires you to be faithful and active in His Church. (4) “Let nothing defect you from the Church.” (5) “Remain faithful to the Church…”