When I was 19, my new husband and I were visited by Mormon missionaries and ended up joining the Mormon church. We were newlyweds looking for answers and thought we had found them in Mormon doctrine. We were married again in the Mormon Temple a year later. As the years went by—we had two children and my husband rose in the ranks of the lay-clergy within that church, eventually becoming a bishop. However, not long after this, he began to change-and our marriage ended due to his adultery.
I haven’t gone to a church regularly since I left the Mormon church all those years ago. I would like to, but it seems every one that I try has people in it who are more confused than I am—even the clergy.
Answered by Marshall Beretta, EPM volunteer
I believe many young couples get involved with the Mormon church for its appearance to give a social community and answers. Most Mormons are nice, conservative people who have a strong concept of morality. Actually, the social aspect of this organization is quite admirable. Its theology, however, is more a works-oriented religion (follow the rules and become a god); and, it gets even more strange as one gets deeper involved.
Praying that by the grace of God your ex-husband’s eyes will be opened to the deceptiveness and ineffectiveness of Mormon theology, and that he would recognize the Truth of the Bible that his spiritual need is for forgiveness of sin and a Savior is fine. The Apostle Paul wrote about those who followed the law and missed the relationship with Christ: “But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor. 3:14-17).
He must first realize that as humans we are all sinful and completely unable to reach God on our own. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Nothing we can do on our own will ever earn salvation. Ephesians tells us “for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:9). A person’s response to the Gospel message is simple: “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved” (Rom. 10:9). The results are wonderful: “And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Col. 2:13-14). In Christ anyone can become a “new person.” It is the relationship with Christ that is enlivening, not the following of rules. “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
I think you and your family would enjoy a good Bible-believing church family. I do not know where you live, but I am sure God has some place you would enjoy. We are all hard on ourselves, and often finding fellow believers, saints, who can sympathize with our struggles is a real gift. Paul describes the real mission of the Church as educating one-another in Ephesians 4:12-16: “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”
Given your background coming out of Mormonism, which tends to be legalistic, you may enjoy focusing more on your relationship with Christ-that He enjoys with us in love and forgiveness—rather than focus on all the things you feel you fall short on. Godliness is certainly part of spiritual growth. However, obedience comes out of desire to please a God we love, not the opposite where our obedience is somehow pleasing to God so now He can love us. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4-7).