Being ex-Mormon or being Mormon – what is better?
The LDS Church has been embroiled in controversy the last couple of weeks. It started with its announcement that children of same sex parents would not be allowed to be baptized until age 18. In order to be baptized they would have to denounce the same sex lifestyle and not live with their parents. In response over one thousand Mormons resigned from the church last weekend with thousands more being upset.
I doubt that the LDS leaders expected this backlash. They probably expected a negative reaction from church members who had a gay family member but not from others. The straw that broke the camel’s back for many was extending the discipline to the children.
More than a few people have asked me how this development might affect our ministry. Most have been surprised when I told them that, in some respects, this will make our task even more difficult. The reason I say that is because our goal is not to get people out of Mormonism, it is to connect them to Christ. And often ex-Mormons are even less inclined to talk about Jesus than Mormons are. Statistics show that the vast majority of ex-Mormons are agnostics.
I totally get that. Many, when they were in the LDS Church, believed that Mormonism was just a better form of Christianity. They viewed the difference between Christianity and Mormonism as not that great. Therefore many, when they reject Mormonism, also reject Christianity and Christ. Layer on top of that a red-hot anger at the church and the last thing many want to do is to attend another church. It becomes even worse if they have had negative experiences with Christians. And if they served on a mission, that is almost a given. So many ex-Mormons are not just agnostics. They are angry agnostics.
That is why I think this new development could make our task even more difficult.
But there is another reason I say that. Over the years and again in the last couple of weeks, I have heard many Christians basically state that much of the battle has been won when a person leaves the LDS Church. I wholeheartedly disagree. A person without Christ - whether in the LDS Church or outside of it - is spiritually dead. Period. Leaving the LDS Church doesn’t make them spiritually alive. Spiritually they are no better off.
But that is not the impression many Christians give. Over the years I have had many talks with Christians who were giddy about a person leaving the LDS Church but who had not given much thought about how they were going to witness Christ to that person. It has sometimes been difficult, and occasionally even painful, to try and get them to focus on that.
That is why it is important to clearly see that our God-given goal is to connect people to Jesus. Otherwise we might be rejoicing when we need to be witnessing.