I want to convert to Mormonism, but my parents think it’s the occult. Help?

First, readers, a little plug:  I’ll be speaking this Saturday, June  11 at the Mormon Stories Conference in Salt Lake City.  Would love to see you there!  For more info, click here.

For a few weeks, I’ve been corresponding with a woman who is in a tough place with her family, and she’s ready to reach out for support.  Here we go:

Dear AMG:

I’m a female who’s been investigating the church for quite a while. I want to be baptized, but my parents believe Mormonism is part of the occult due to reading anti-Mormon literature. They’re very strong in their opinion, and very angry. I’m old enough not to need their permission to join, but I don’t want them to worry for me. Advice?

KD

Dear KD:

Breaking each others’ hearts is what parents and children do, I’m afraid.  We grow up and leave home.  Some of us marry people our parents didn’t want us to marry. Some of us come out of the closet.  Some of us choose careers or life paths that take us away from home.  We grow and change in ways our parents’ didn’t anticipate.  And it’s frightening for all involved. It hurts.

But you have to make your own home in this world.

From our correspondence, I know you’ve thought about your conversion to Mormonism very carefully.  You’ve done your homework on the claims that Mormonism is “occult.”  And you’ve told me your newfound faith brings you a lot of peace and strength.  One more thing I’d ask you to assess as you weigh your decision to be baptized:  if your parents do react very strongly, are you in a secure enough life position to handle it?  Are you living at home?  Do you have an independent source of income?  Do you have a support network that can assist you in case things get rough?  This is a worst-case scenario, of course, but it’s important to mentally prepare and take stock as you contemplate this big decision.  Just in case.  Call on friends—both Mormon and non-Mormon—to support you as you prepare to be baptized.  Talk with them about how and when to tell your parents.  Prepare.  Plan for a worst case scenario.  And remember that there is nothing wrong with timing your decision to allow yourself to move forward with the greatest possible security and dignity.

That’s the short term advice.  The long term advice is that there is only one thing that will get you—get all of us–through this thicket of scared and broken hearts.  Love.  Only love.  More love.  And time.  If you continue to love your parents, continue to show them in your actions and words that you are their daughter and can be trusted, and if you find every opportunity to honor them for raising you to be so courageous, in time–it could be weeks, months, or years–you will reconcile.

Continue to ask for inspiration and keep your heart full of love.   And listen to the good advice you’re going to get from the women (and men) who read AMG.  We’re all rooting for you, and your parents too, KD.

Send your query to askmormongirl@gmail.com, or follow askmormongirl on Twitter.

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17 Comments

Filed under conversion

17 responses to “I want to convert to Mormonism, but my parents think it’s the occult. Help?

  1. Jay

    Remember that even if all that planning reveals a lack of any or all of those elements of support that God will not forsake you for a choice that is right. If there were perfect support, it would not require faith.

  2. Jim

    “If you continue to love your parents, continue to show them in your actions and words that you are their daughter and can be trusted, and if you find every opportunity to honor them for raising you to be so courageous, in time–it could be weeks, months, or years–you will reconcile.” I cannot think of one better suited to write these words than AMG.

  3. LMA

    I’ve been – and still am – in KD’s shoes. My upbringing was born-again evangelical. I faced this issue with my mom and dad when I married a Mormon, and then again, many years later, when I converted and was baptized. I am lucky that the love we have for one another as members of a family overcomes most (although not all) of the anguish. As I have grown more confident in this faith, I have tried to ask them to take the edge off of this belief that the Church is a cult, that we must believe in a “different Jesus” (huh? there’s only the one of them!) and that my wife and children (my parents’ grandchildren) are condemned to eternal torment in Hell. There are a lot of ways that I (or we, I should say) can take the edge off of those beliefs, the first and most important of which is to always, always demonstrate the love that we have to the other members of my family. Another way is to emphasize the areas in which our theology agrees, despite the many areas of disagreement. We love and worship Jesus Christ as the Son of God. We believe that we are saved through His atoning sacrifice, that he died for our sins and was resurrected on the third day to return to Heaven, where He prepares a place for us to receive us unto Himself. We believe in, and accept and cherish, in other words, every core principle that an evangelical will tell anyone is required to be saved. I remember the day that my son and I gave my mom a priesthood blessing, after calling James 5:14 to her attention. They don’t do that in your church, mom, but we do it in ours.

  4. Matt

    My heart goes out to you. I think Joanna has given you very good advice. I would just like to suggest one thing more.

    If you have not already done so (and perhaps even if you have) you might consider inviting your parents (or inviting them again) to reconsider their beliefs about the church. You could tell them that you love them, that you have taken their concerns seriously and that you have done some careful investigation and want to share with them what you have learned. Perhaps you could facilitate a non-threatening gathering with a few members of the church where your parents are permitted to ask whatever questions they wish. If you demonstrate to them that you are listening to their concerns and taking them seriously, it may be possible to transform the discussion from a divisive argument into an opportunity for you and your parents to grow closer together.

    If your parents don’t accept your invitation, I agree with Joanna. The fastest way to overcome your parents’ worry or hurt feelings is by consistently and persistently showing your love and respect for them and your appreciation for their love and concern.

    Whatever happens, of this I’m certain: if you prayerfully include our Father in Heaven as you make your decision, he can open opportunities you didn’t know you had.

    Good luck!

  5. AT

    I commend you for following your heart, even with pressure not to do so from those you love. I converted at age 25, against my family’s wishes. It was a wondeful choice that has brought me many blessings. I made it through the tension with my parents and friends by having a strong support system within the LDS church, prayers, faith, and being completely open with them about my experiences/worries/joys. Of these things, the presence of someone (or several) you trust and love who supports you in your decisions is crucial. All folks, convert or not (and LDS or not) seem to ebb and flow regarding the intensity and sincerity with which they seek truth and light. During your times of hesitancy and questioning, make sure you have someone to talk to and you continue to communicate this in prayer. Hope that helps!

  6. I’m not saying the LDS Church doesn’t have skeletons in its historical closet, but even lifelong members are generally not aware of all the controversial and shocking things said on “anti-Mormon” websites.

    Why are they not aware of it after attending Church and the Temple for decades? Because they are mostly pulled from obscure, speculative theological works that did not survive to become a part of mainstream LDS religion today. That, or they are problems that were fixed or were abandoned, and often so long ago that current members alive today have no recollection they were ever a part of our day-to-day religion.

    It’s easy to find dramatic and disturbing ideas in any religion, if you just dig around enough and find dramatic and disturbing people that liked to write and were a part of those religions. The world changes. Religions adapt to those changes or they slowly become irrelevant and fade away. That is why you can look back in history and find things that don’t seem to match our modern sensibilities and understanding.

    • LMA

      Brian makes good points. Anyone converting to the Church from a more conventional Christian background will surely be confronted with those types of attacks. They are fundamentally dishonest in their nature, since as Brian mentions they don’t represent our church or what we believe. Any more than Martin Luther’s virulent anti-Semitism represents modern Protestants.

  7. BL

    One thing you can do is to keep studying the gospel, make good friends in the church, and attend and behave AS IF you were baptized -for a while. Living the gospel the best you can will make you a more respectful helpful kind daughter. You will increase in love and patience. You will express more love in your family…and do more dishes.

    You will be striving for self -improvement and a better relationship with the Lord, increasing in prayer and scripture study. I studied the gospel and worked on living its principles for 18 months after I first learned about it. Because of this my parents could not say I had rushed into it. I repeatedly told them that I loved them and I really did try to understand their concerns ( as much as a child can understand parents…I knew they were worried because they loved me, and I was heading into something totally unfamiliar to them. I asked them to take the discussions, but they declined) . I wanted to please them. It hurt me to hurt them, but I knew that my first concern , in the end, was to please the Lord. I understood that by leaving the ‘faith of my fathers’ I was even somewhat of an embarrasment to them. I tried to put myself in their shoes and could understand how worried and uncomfortable they were with my choice. I was aware of some of the things they had learned about our church that were based on some fact but were twisted into untruths.

    Bottom line: I had prayed to know if Joseph really saw what he said he saw. Heavenly Father had given me my answer. I was ready to commit to following the Savior in a way I had never felt before. I was old enough to make this choice on my own, and I did. I knew it was not going to be easy on any of us, and it wasn’t.

    One of the good things that happened for me is that my parents got to know some older missionary couples. They also became acquainted with a member family that lived near us. These things helped. You might try to see if they would be willing to meet someone closer to their age who is in the church.

    BUT…the truth is….my membership was always a wall between us. It still is, on some level…different with each of my family members. They still don’t know that much about the church, really, and still think some of our practices are strange.

    I have never regretted for one minute my choice to embrace and live the gospel. Some family bonds are still somewhat strained after many years….but I suppose that is the price I have paid. Now my children have gone on missions, married in the temple, and are having children. I think you have to be prepared for the chance they will always feel you made the wrong choice. We can’t control what others think about our choices. Thankfully, we do get to make and be responsible for ourselves in this life! Become self-reliant, financially, emotionally, and spiritually.

    I encourage you to avoid dramatic scenes, continue to be loving and patient, and when the time is right, move on with your responsible adult decisions. Your parents probably helped you become the strong person that you are. Then show them by continuous example what a Latter-day Saint woman is, by living your best life, year in and year out.

    I think having my family in disagreement probably worked for good in my life, in that I always knew I and my own little family were representing the church and the Lord to my family of origin. It was sort of a big deal, really, as my family are very committed to their church. My early gospel teachings are very important to me. I maintain friendships with in my old church, by being kind and considerate. The gospel is about being a better person as we truly strive to become Christlike. Avoid being a martyr or being self-righteous. I can’t promise anything about how your future will be, but I know doing the Lord’s will in my life has to be my priority.

    I think the main thing is to pray and ask for help, and then let the Holy Spirit direct you. He definitely will! Do not let anyone pressure you to be baptized before you are ready. Do not do it until you are ready to be truly committed. You will always have a few things to navigate with family, but it is worth it to me. While I would have loved complete approval of my actions by my parents, I much more understand that the issue of my salvation is between me and God.

    I bear my testimony that I know Joseph saw what he saw .. and Jesus Christ is the head of this church. I am thankful for prophets in these latter days. How blessed and lucky we are!

  8. Amber

    Open your heart and your mind to your mother in a loving way. Don’t automatically assume that because she shares with you something you haven’t been made aware of by the LDS church that it is “anti-mormon”. There are many many MANY things that you will never be told about and may never read about because of that tactic. If the LDS church is something you love because it feels right then that is your answer and go with it, but don’t deny the truth because it doesn’t hold up with the pretty picture that life can be in the LDS church. I have personally left the church for my own reasons and I am happy with that decision, but it was mine to make. As a result of that I have been shunned by my still LDS family. I can tell you from my personal experience that people see the LDS church as a cult because of the loop holes like teaching you that anything said or written against the mormon church is “anti-mormon” or teaching children to say,” I KNOW that the church is true, and that Joseph Smith IS the true prophet”. A lot of people see such things as brain washing. I recently went to my new baby niece’s blessing in support of my only family member still accepting of me and sat opposite of my family. I stood up and gave my new “testimony” after hearing people say over and over, as if to convince themselves, that they “know this church is true”. It was overwhelming but I said “I don’t know that this church is true, who in this wide world possibly could? What I do know is that this church has a good base teaching in that it claims that nothing is more important than family. I appreciate getting that from the LDS religion and I hope that one day I will be accepted back into mine and for once in my life experience unconditional love.” Nothing has changed and I suppose I didn’t expect it to, but I would give just about anything to know what it must be like to have a family that loved me for who I am and not what I claim to know.

  9. Amanda Sandoval

    I have a daughter who is female and had investigated the church and was baptized February 2011. She converted by taking the first step and becoming baptized. She did it all for her boyfriend. She did not know what she was getting herself into. What you do today, could affect generations (up to the 3rd and 4th). As her parents, we believe pulling young girls away from a personal relationship with God, then alienating them from her family is very common behavior or tactic Mormons use to recruit and build their church. Listen to the way they word things carefully. Do more research as if you are looking for something that will turn you away. If you can find something wrong. Do not get baptized. And don’t change your spirit for any God. Respect your parents strong opinions, and understand why they are very angry. Even though you are old enough not to need their permission to join, don’t go against them. Accept who you are and do not change anything about you. God already made you perfectly. If you do that, you will be following the greatest commandment in any Bible…Love. Love who you are and you won’t need to convert or be baptized. That is just a church requirement.

    • LMA

      Wow, how judgmental is that. Dear Amanda, how do you know that “[s]he [does] not know what she [is] getting herself into?” I suspect that she does. The missionaries are very careful to make sure that a convert has a testimony (as we say) of the Gospel. I only hope that your anger (your word!) doesn’t hurt her or your relationship with her.

      You say that we believe that pulling young girls away from a personal relationship with God is “a common tactic.” Um, no, it’s not. People join the Church at many stages of life and for many reasons, and fundamentally because they are touched by the Holy Spirit. I was raised as an evangelical, fell away from Christ due to my own arrogance and sin, and at a very mature stage in my life found the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No tactics, just a spiritual journey. You do your daughter a disservice to deny the legitimacy of her own.

      Baptism is just a church requirement, eh? I guess you don’t actually read the Bible then.

  10. swimminginit

    I must disagree with you, LMA. There is strong truth to “honoring your father and mother” and failing to do so would be displeasing to God, don’t you think?. Tearing apart families does not coincide with God’s love for us.

    • LMA

      There is certainly a commandment to honor thy father and thy mother. But in the history of the world, I think that no one until now has interpreted that commandment as a requirement that children adhere to the religion of one’s parents, no matter what that might be. Nor is it a prohibition against Christians teaching revealed truth to members of a family which does not follow that teaching. The young lady in question is over 18. (We know that because the Church won’t baptize under-age young men or women without parental consent.) She must be free to make her own choices. That’s only “tearing a family apart” if the parents refuse to respect the daughter’s choice. In my own case, my non-LDS parents were unhappy – sorrowful, even – at my conversion, which came at a much later stage of my life than in this case. But they chose to respond to me, my Mormon spouse and our Mormon children with love. As a result, our family was not torn apart and remains strong to this day, despite the differences in faith. And THAT, dear friend, is what God would have us do. The judgmental and hostile tone of the original comment (Amanda’s) is what is contrary to the love and commandments of God. I hope this is helpful to you.

  11. Aron Lupton

    I say do what you want, but watch out. The doctrine you will probably find out as you get older, makes people do things that are not the most loving, caring actions people can do. Blocking off friends and family because they are not worthy is one of the things a mormon is required to do. Not all mormons are like this but the doctrine states it. It can be a very harmful thing.

    • LMA

      Oh get off it. “Blocking off friends and family” is NOT anything a Mormon is required by doctrine or anything else to do.

      • Aron Lupton

        What?. So the literally 50+ ex lds friends of mine, that I was really good friends with by the way, that blocked me off did it because of what reason? When I was a member that is exactly the reason I was given. Just because I’m an apostate and you’re God can’t protect you from apostates does that justify that? How about we stop hatin’ and spread some genuine love? I mean seriously how would you feel if people you cared about went crazy and for decided to not make any contact with you? Feels pretty bad. Love is the only answer. Period.

      • LMA

        Look, friend. I am in no position to comment on your personal circumstances. It doesn’t help that none of the 50+ people are here to tell their side of the story. But my comment was, and remains, accurate: “Blocking off friends and family” is NOT anything a Mormon is required by doctrine or anything else to do. Far from it, Mormons are counseled to be loving and forgiving toward everyone, especially family. I could cite many, many authoritative statements to that effect. One is D&C 64:10, but there have been any number of Conference talks about this. On the other hand, you are unable to cite any doctrine supporting your statement.

        I get that you’re bitter. That’s too bad. It doesn’t justify you making false statements in a public forum. Peace be with you.

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