Ask Mormon Girl: I want to convert, but my mother is deadset against it. Help?

One theme, two letters this week, readers:

I am a 16 year-old girl, writing because I have developed a deep love and commitment for the LDS Church, but I’m facing horrible hostility from my mother. My mother isn’t just suspicious of the Church as an outsider. She was raised a member in Utah, and became inactive when she left home for college and never looked back. So when she criticizes the Church she knows exactly what she is talking about and seems to speak from a passionate place of hurt.

I was raised with no religious affiliation, and because of this, I lacked the kind of community that my Jewish and Christian peers had in their synagogues and churches. That was why a year ago, my mother, also having a loneliness/community crisis herself, got my brother involved in Boy Scouts via the church, and talked a local ward to let me go to Young Women’s. We loved it just as a secular way to make friends and have fun, but for me it became spiritual. After about 6 months, I knew that I believed in the Church and it was the completion to my desire to find a church. (I was obsessed with God and Christ from an early age despite the lack of discussion in my home). Then came the time to tell my mom.

A month ago I expressed my desire to get baptized and I got a long lecture on how it would ruin my mind–I have been raised a liberal and the majority of Mormons think more conservatively than me–make me lonely (the irony), how disappointed she would be in me, and how it would divide us for the rest of our lives. 

There has nothing been more painful to me than hearing that. I have considered giving up on the Church because I can’t reconcile it with her. But that’s equally painful. My goal was to get baptized this year, but now I’ve thought it may have to wait until I’m in college. Until then I’d still like to go to church and other activities, but I’m afraid of alienating my mother just by doing that. 

How can I foster my faith but stay at peace with my mother especially as a youth?

NJJ

I’ve found, through much prayer and reading of the scriptures, that I believe The Book of Mormon to be true. I really want to be baptized. I’m 18 years old and am going to a community college and living with my parents and in two years, I hope to transfer to a four year. Even before finding that I agree with the beliefs and ideals of the Mormon religion, I was considering transferring to BYU in two years. Now I would like to even more because I honestly want to surround myself with like-minded people. I have never met a member of the LDS church that I did not absolutely love. I’m excited to be baptized.

The only problem is that my parents strongly dislike the Mormon religion, mostly because I am half African American and my mother is very sensitive to any person or group of people that has every been racist toward African Americans or Africans in general. I have not yet gone to her to tell her that I want to be baptized, but I did tell her that I want to transfer to BYU.  She was absolutely furious. She told me that I should go find some nice Catholic school to go to instead, because that “would be better for the purposes I have for going”. So it seems that soon I will need to tell her that I want to be baptized. I have no idea how to go about it. I definitely want to avoid destroying my relationship with my parents, but I need to be true to my faith as well. Also, I know there is a very good chance that when I tell them, they will decide to kick me out of the house. I would have literally nowhere else to go and no way to pay for school over the next few years. I’m terrified of being stranded. I’ve considered waiting a few years until I’m out of the house, but that feels extremely wrong morally. It would be like lying. I really need help.

Funny how life works.  I disappointed my parents when I stepped away from Mormonism.  I came back an unorthodox Mormon feminist Democrat person and, alas, still a mild to moderate disappointment to my parents and other parental-like-folks-who-knew-me-when.  And now I get mail from young women who are afraid of disappointing or even losing their parents on the way into Mormonism.

Because the story at the heart of it all is the epic intergenerational saga of parents and the power they have over our lives.

Sitting here at my yellow formica-top kitchen table late Sunday night I find it nearly impossible to put the great epic intergenerational saga of parents into words. Other than to say that decades from now, when you have children of your own, you will still be wrestling with the weight of your parents’ legacies, all that they tried to give you and could, or couldn’t, and how their own griefs and needs and aspirations are woven into your own.  You too will sit at a kitchen table with a cup of herbal tea and find it all hard to put into words.

“Honor your father and mother,” says the Old Testament. “Leave mother and father,” says the New.  And Jesus said, “I am come to set a man at variance against his father, a daughter against her mother” (Matthew 10:35).

Is it possible to both honor your father and mother and make choices that challenge their vision for what your life should be?  Is it possible both to love your parents and break their hearts?

These questions constitute one of sacred mysteries at the very heart of what it means to be alive and human.  And mysteries so profound often defy easy answers.  Perhaps the best we can do is face such mysteries with honor.

The sages of the Rabbinic tradition have some very specific instructions about what “honor” towards parents entails—for example, making sure your parents are physically provided for, never cursing or shaming them, or speaking disrespectfully to them.

Perhaps in your cases you can honor your parents by showing them that you have listened to them and understand their concerns.  Make sure you do.  (For example, make sure you study the history of Mormon institutional racism and the experience of Black Mormons and know it for yourself, or make sure you understand why your mother’s Mormonism was a source of such hurt to her.)  Honor them by communicating your gratitude for the way they raised you to be community-loving, principled, spiritual people.  Affirm all that you can of the spiritual legacy they have built into you.

Then, thinking wisely about timing, and in a way that minimizes shame and contention for all involved, make your choices.

That’s the best I can offer.  For I too am in the thralls of this sacred mystery, and I don’t expect I’ll ever have it all figured out. So I’ll turn it over now to my readers, some of whom have more experience with the family politics of conversion than I do.

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

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47 Comments

Filed under conversion, family

47 responses to “Ask Mormon Girl: I want to convert, but my mother is deadset against it. Help?

  1. Anon

    If you would like to hear a great General Conference talk on this subject, check out Pres. Uchtdorf’s talk from 2008 called “Faith of our Father.” I remember it being really good, and addressing the difference between honoring our parents and taking a different path from theirs. Hope that helps!

  2. Laura

    I first want to wish these girls the best of luck. I too was in that moral quagmire at the age of 18 as well. My parents had collectively met maybe 5 Mormons in their whole lives and somehow my mom was good friends with a man who is a part of the 1.5% who went to BYU and didn’t convert so he knew A LOT about the faith. Initially (through shock I feel), they seemed ok but then came the theatrics of attempting to change my mind. I agreed to wait 6 months only to upset them during my first year of college that I still wanted to be baptized (even while not going to the most non-Mormon place for college, a traditional party school that is my parents’ alma mater). Both mentioned the history against Blacks, both mentioned the history against women, and obviously I’m here as a liberal, so both mentioned the conservatism. It became impossible to explain that I wouldn’t become a racist, womenhating (as a woman, this one almost made me laugh), religious right member. I spent a long time trying to convince them of that but truthfully to no avail since they thoughg I was already brainwashed and it only hurt our relationships. I converted with the hopes that they’drecognize it was good for me, that it meant nothing against them and that in a few years, it wouldn’t be a problem. However 6 years later, it still is a big problem with my family. My parents have come to realize that I won’t be a fanatic (yay!), but they also think I’m subconsciously more conservative than I say, especially when Romney was running and that every time I refuse to drink it’s because I’m trying to embarrasses them (where I’m from there is a huge drinking culture where non-drinkers essentially have to say they were one time alcoholics to have people let up). I wish I could say I endured with Mormon faithfullness and steadfastness, that I never caved to my parents ridicule and didn’t yell back, and that I never slipped up on the WOW when my mom put a glass of wine in front of me for the 100th time, but I did. It’s been a struggle ever since. However, I don’t regret it and as I get older I realize a few things. One this is a true and good Church that I’m pround to be a part of. Two if it wasn’t this, it was going to be something else that I’d have to stand up to my parents about. I had an lds friend explain his time was when he didn’t go to graduate school and his parents pushed him on that. Despite loving our parents, we will eventually disagree on something that will cause friction. It happpened to me at the age of 18, my friend at 24 and it may be sooner or later for others. Was it hard, yes, but it becomes a learning experience for the future and that part of it becomes easier to assert oneself in the future. Lastly, in the eternal spectrum of things, I know my family will be able to find peace in this decision. Still not sure that they will accept this in the life to come but I know that life is short and long. This may have seemed like an eternity but it was only 6 years and I’ve slowly seen improvement over the years and I know it’ll get better. That’s all I can really testify to my experience and I hope your endeavors will be more successful than mine. My prayers go out to you as you do.

  3. Kari

    My parents both left the church before I was born. At 8 I was baptized (because we had some home teachers who weren’t afraid of just being neighborly, rather than thinking they were going to reactivate my parents). But I didn’t become fully active until Young Women’s. Though my parents were both supportive of my activity (and they paid for my mission, and stood by, somewhat in pain, when I married in the temple), I have some understanding of the difficulty of participating in a church that brought my mom (especially) a great deal of pain (principally because of the feminist issues of the late 60′s/early 70′s).

    I’ve learned a couple of things now that I’m in the middle of my mid-life crisis. Part of why I ran so fiercely to the church was in rebellion of my parents. Now that I’m having to hold my parents more lightly (in order to ease my own spiritual pain), I’m also having to hold the church more lightly. I’ve learned that, despite the Mormon TV commercials, families aren’t perfect and being active in the church will not guarantee that I won’t yell at my children. My marriage marches along, like most other marriages. Sometimes it’s wonderful, sometimes it’s deeply painful.

    Nevertheless, in our family (and this includes extended family, because my story repeats with variations among my cousins), family relationships transcend spiritual paths. I am extremely grateful that, for any efforts I have have made to love my parents despite their “inactivity,” they’ve responded in kind. So this means that I provide my mom with coffee when she comes for Christmas morning. And that when I was living with her, I went to the store for her from time to time on a Sunday when she needed my help. I didn’t ever try to “reactivate” her, and I found others with whom I could have deep, meaningful, spiritual discussions instead of my parents. And I also tried to have conversations about things that were meaningful to my parents without becoming defensive about the church. Was it easy? No. At times it very much hurt. As it did for my parents (I’ve had some regrets that I didn’t get married civilly first and then wait a year for a sealing). But I’m so grateful, even at this stage of my life when I’m learning how to be more spiritual and less religious, that I have cultivated a relationship with Christ in my life, and that I have embraced my Mormon heritage and my own Mormon experience.

    The one bit of “wisdom” that I’ve gained through this journey that I would pass along–I believe that spiritual progress is eternal, and judgement isn’t as cut-and-dried as is often taught in my Utah church culture.

  4. Fellow Progressive

    Dear NJJ, while there are many more conservative-minded people in the LDS church than not. I can say that us liberal Mormons are out there. And in a time of access to the internet, you’re ability to connect to liberal-minded Mormons is greater than ever! Tell her about Mormons for Marriage (pro-gay marriage Mormon movement) or Feminist Mormon Housewives (blog dedicated to feminist Mormons–you don’t have to be a housewife!). Perhaps those examples will ease her fear of losing her bond with her daughter.

  5. slsdm

    This comment is for the young person that is half African American. I have always struggled with the blurry, confusing Christian teachings that suggest the “mark” of “black skin” is the mark of a curse that came from Cain. It never sat well with me, neither did the idea that the LDS ban on the Priesthood had something to do with that, especially when we preach in our own 2nd Article of Faith that “man will be punished for their own sins”. That’s when I came upon blacksinthescriptures.com. It’s a website created by Marvin Perkins and Darius Gray (both African Americans and both current or former leaders in the Church’s African-American auxillary organization The Genesis Group (which was formed in 1971 – for a quick history of how it came into existence see http://www.ldsgenesisgroup.org/history.htm).

    These 2 men are amazing historians and scriptorians. Darius has been a convert for 40 years (he was baptized a few years before before the ban was lifted). Marvin has been a convert for 20 years.

    Together they created a 4 segment dvd series (that can be purchased, but recently has also been put onto the website to view for free) that addresses the misunderstood scriptures and teachings and history (both in the bible and in the LDS scriptures) regarding color, curses, equality & priesthood. I cannot tell you how absolutely enlightening they have been for me. I have a much clearer understanding of the scriptures and of God, and how, unfortunately, misguided teachings have been given over the years on the subject that would allow one to wrongfully conclude that this church is indeed racist. But when you see the insights these two brothers share, you can see clearly that that is not the case, it’s just a topic that has been misunderstood and taught by imperfect men (No one in this life is perfect except for Christ, not even God’s servants, and God has to bring about His purposes through imperfect men. He knew this (see D&C 1:24-28) but gives all of us our free agency to learn and grow through our efforts).

    I cannot stress enough how invaluable this website and its contents has been for me personally regarding this topic. Please study and have your mother study it. I think she will see differently afterward if she does.

    In the website is a 29 page written pdf presentation of pretty much all that is taught in the 4 segments of the dvds is at http://blacksinthescriptures.com/_wp/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/How-to-Reach-African-Americans.pdf This was the most valuable to me when it came to looking up all the supporting scriptures that are used in the dvd lessons.

    An audio-only version of the 4 segments of the dvds is at http://www.fairblog.org/2013/02/. They can be downloaded.

    The video segments of dvds, now available to view on the site (plus a newer video just added to also view, titled “Blacks and Mormons A Look At The Doctrine) is at http://blacksinthescriptures.com/in-the-news/. Above each video segment of the dvds is a link to all of the scripture references used in that segment.

    Q& A podcasts are also available for even more insight and understanding at http://blacksinthescriptures.com/bible-podcast/. They can’t be downloaded, but must be listened to on the site page itself. Don’t let that discourage you from listening to them though. They added so much additional insight and clarification to my study of all of this. I would listen or watch one of the dvd segments and then listen to the Q&A podcast that went with it, before going on to the next dvd segment. They also have a couple of additional podcasts here to listen to: one is an interview with a black reverend from another faith, one is insight into the Pearl of Great Price specifically, and one is of a 12 question interview done by the site timesandseasons.org. A written transcript of part 1 of that interview is also available at http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2009/05/12-questions-for-marvin-perkins-part-one/ (links to part 2, 3 & 4 of that interview are linked from that page as well).

    I hope this helps you as much as it helped me. These 2 brothers who made all of this available for us did countless amounts of study and research. Their love is so apparent when you listen to them and so are their firm testimonies that this is God’s restored gospel on the earth.

    I took Marvin’s challenge to not just believe his words, but to study it out myself and ask God if it was true, and I can say firmly that my eyes were opened and my mind was enlightened when God did show me it was true and of Him. Marvin also testified that as we came to know the truth of these things, ourselves, we would be led to others that would benefit from knowing it too. I couldn’t help but think of that when I came upon this dear 18 year old’s question today, only a couple of days after completing my own study and prayer on the contents of this site and what it teaches.

    • Michelle

      This is great! Thanks for the direction to blacksinthescriptures.com. I’m sure I’ll be spending hours there reading and watching everything. There is always more to any challenging issue than initially meets the eye, isn’t there? Always. I love what Elder Holland said in Conference on Sunday, “… this is a divine work in process, with the manifestations and blessings of it abounding in every direction, so please don’t hyperventilate if from time to time issues arise that need to be examined, understood, and resolved. They do and they will. In this Church, what we know will always trump what we do not know. And remember, in this world, everyone is to walk by faith.” I think that is the perfect way to respond to concerns and questions. There is truth to be found and resolution to be gained, and in the end we will find, again and again, that the Lord really is in charge of this church and the men and women he has chosen to lead are teaching us truth.

  6. Patty

    I think you are absolutely right Joanna, honor thy mother and father. The relationship we have with our parents is so important and I believe it touches every other relationship we have. However, the relationship we have with our Heavenly Father is just as important, if not more so. These two young people have a very difficult decision to make. But they have to ask themselves what would happen to them spiritually if they didn’t follow their heart?

  7. I have no great wisdom other than the fact that should you choose to delay your baptism for a time when your parents are at more of a distance from your lives, God will understand your heart and your choice, you will not lose what you have gained by simply not acting now and will not be ‘punished’ for choosing to wait. That said, I understand why you would want the blessings of the baptismal covenant and full fellowship of the gospel in your life now as well. God knows you, he knows your heart, and I believe that you can find your answers through the very processes through which you have gained a testimony. The answer might be different for each of you, as is your individual journey in life and in the gospel–this is no ‘one size fits all’ answer. Best of luck to you and to your parents. God bless.

  8. Kristin

    This was the story of my conversion. I read the BOM late at night and hid it between my mattresses so they wouldn’t find it. I cannot say enough how this test of your faith, and your willingness to press forward will bless your life.

    I told my parents the day of my baptism I was going to join the Church (this I might not recommend), and they were furious. They had Southern Baptist roots and thought the Church was a cult. They planned to kick me out of the house, and no longer co-sign my student loans (making it impossible for me to go to college). The couldn’t understand how they had raised a smart girl, who had a sound mind, who would make a choice like this. I remember the week after I joined the Church being one of the toughest of my life. But I got through it! praying feverishly and fasted that my parents hearts would soften. They did end up helping me go to school. But oh, during those horrible hard days; back then I could have never imagined what life would be like today, and how God has the power to transform people. Since then I have been married in the temple (and my mom threw me a huge reception — inside a church building no doubt). Things are still not perfect, but over time my parents have come to see that the Church blesses my life and helps me be who I have wanted to be all along. They know that for me it is right. My relationship with them is stronger than it has ever been, and I am hopeful that down the road it will continue to improve.

    Good luck in your journey. Have faith that through Christ and Heavenly Father ALL things are possible.

  9. I recently read a book called “You’re Wearing That?: Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation” that had a good section devoted to the power struggle between mothers (parents) and daughters (children). Well worth a read.

    My personal story is nothing so extreme as either of these examples. I usually explain it by saying either “I was born into the church, but not raised in it,” or “I grew up with the church and my parents sort of took turns being active after they divorced.” I reactivated on my own while in college, and knew that when I graduated, I wanted to be close to a temple but not far from my family. Which was difficult because my family lives at least 3 hours from a temple. But I knew if I moved back home, where there were fewer members and a mother who was sour against the Church, I would have experienced spiritual regression instead of the spiritual progression I desired.

    I knew my father would understand (he goes on and on about how lonely it is having to go 30 miles to do home teaching), but mother would be less understanding. I didn’t even have the courage to really talk with her about it. I ended up making the decision to move away from my family, and although I didn’t tell my mom it was because I wanted to be closer to the Church, I think she knew. Later, after I had made the move, I found some scriptures (Matt 10:32-37) that made me feel less guilty about my decision. They pretty much say that those who put God first, even ahead of their own families, will be blessed.

  10. Krista R.

    I grew up happily steeped in Mormonism *and* all that the culture carried with it. Though I’m still active in the church (and am raising my two daughters in it), I’m not the girl I was then, and I observe many of the cultural traditions with pain in my heart,

    I worry that inside the church, when we tell stories about brave converts, we sometimes (either implicitly or explicitly) vilify their reluctant parents or pity them for not “knowing what we know.” That bothers me. I for one do not know all the answers, nor do I have great words of wisdom for you; I only know that if I were in your situation and I heard my parents spoken of in any but respectful terms, I’d be deeply bothered. If there is any advice I can offer, it is not to let yourself be drawn into unfair criticism of your parents, even when it might feel good to have allies. Speak up for them–from what I’ve heard it sounds like they care deeply and have your interests at heart, even if their perspectives differ from yours right now.

    I suspect you can make a choice you feel good about and that many of your biggest fears will be sorted out in time. Family ties are strong and very often overcome moments of anger and fear with increased love and understanding. Still, tread softly and be kind, so that the process can have its best chance to work in all your hearts. All my best wishes.

    Krista

  11. Q

    I would advise anyone in this situation not to assume their parents will eventually change their minds. My mother was in this situation 40-something years ago. As I understand it, it was a difficult thing for everyone involved. Having a wedding her parents weren’t allowed to attend a few years later didn’t help things. It seems to me that they eventually dealt with it by avoiding the topic most of the time. She had high hopes that her parents would convert, but they went to their graves devoutly Catholic. I always felt like we had a friendly relationship with our grandparents, and I consider both of them worthy role models, but I think my siblings and I felt closer to my other grandparents, even though they were more geographically distant.

    I really want to be as understanding as possible of the choices my own children make, but I know that there are choices they could make down the road that would disappoint me. Can a child feel loved unconditionally while feeling she has disappointed her parents? I believe so. How does a parent make that happen? I don’t know, but I know it when I see it. Is there a better solution to such a situation? I sincerely wish so, but I think the answer may be no. The disappointment will always be there; the best both sides can do is try to understand.

  12. Kenny

    I was born and raised in the Church, but I look to several role models in my life who are converts. Two of them are my mother and my step-grandfather. My Mom was raised as a Catholic and her parents were not very supportive when she expressed her desires to join the church and be baptized. One of her parents didn’t even go to her baptism. While it was hard for my mom and she certainly felt some kind of fear to tell her parents, things have gotten better. As the years have passed, it’s very obvious to my grandparents the good that has come from her joining the church: she has grown so much and is a great example to all her family members, and her children, while we’re nowhere near perfect, defy the negative stereotypes that teenagers and young adults are often stamped with. My grandparents still don’t have a desire to join the church (yet), but they are now supportive and have come to the baptisms of all of their grandchildren, health permitting. They have to know that there is something good here, because “by their fruits, ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20) and my mother’s decision to join the Church has borne good fruit. My father’s stepfather is also a great example. He is an African-American man was also raised Catholic. He married my grandmother almost 30 years ago and has always been very supportive of her, even to the point that he’d read the Book of Mormon with her every day and on Sundays, go to both mass and my grandma’s sacrament meeting. For 25 years, he had been doing this and visited with missionaries several times, but always got hung up on the “Mormons and Blacks” issue. That is, until they came to visit us while our parents were out of town. As the oldest priesthood holder of my brothers and sisters, I gathered my siblings for scripture study and my grandparents joined us. I don’t know that anything in the chapter we read jumped out at him in particular, but something about how a bunch of kids were so devoted to the gospel touched his heart and he understood, like my other grandparents, that only something from God could bring about something so good in the lives of teenagers and children (see Moroni 7:13). My grandpa was baptized less than a year later as an 81 year old man. I’ve noticed some similarities between these two stories. First, my grandparents, even though they came from different backgrounds and led different lives, became increasingly supportive as their family members lived their beliefs. A second similarity is that the truth of the gospel proves itself in those who live it. For both my mom’s parents and my dad’s stepfather, they can see that Mormonism is a great thing because of the way it has affected the lives of their Mormon family members. And third, both my mom and my step-grandpa chose baptism when they understood the words of the Savior: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his across, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:37-39). While not a convert, I have seen when I put God first that He pours out blessings upon my head and those blessings are worth more to me than anything else I can think of.

    • velardavid@hotmail.com

      so despite the “mormons and blacks issue” this guy felt that Mormonism was right because he saw the devotion some had towards it and it touched his heart?

      I can see the devotion of Mormons and be touched by it, but then still go to the effort of devoting myself to the truth, not following what they are devoted to. Same with Muslims, or Jehovah Witnesses. I do not understand how people who have all of these disagreeable teachings can all be equally valid and truthful when they clearly contradict each other. Shall one be Mormon, Jehovah Witness, Muslim, and Christian all at the same time? It seems that’s the only way to reconcile this kind of thinking:

      “I see how nice or sweet they are, so they must be following the truth, so I decided to follow whatever it is they are so devoted to… because they seem or sound or make me feel so convinced… even though what they actually say or teach is clearly not true… it just… feels good when they speak or when I read about it… so it must be right…even though it’s not”

      If it were whites that were so scandalously slandered in a book, I am certain you’d respond with more reason and distinguish an individuals devotion from your own, or another’s devotion towards truth

  13. Kathy Datsko

    Dear Beloved Sisters,
    I made that decision 10 years ago. I was 46 and I did not know if my husband would divorce me. We were (and still are) born again Spirit-filled Pentecostal/charismatic Christians, deeply dedicated to the Lord. I knew there would be huge barriers in our families. There have been.
    First of all,
    Your Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother love you.
    Jesus Christ loves you.
    The Holy Spirit loves you deeply as well.
    Take time to drink in and soak in Their love.
    They will continue to love you unconditionally, no matter what you choose.
    And They are saying to you, “This is Your Choice.”
    No compulsion, no judgment, no fear, no withholding of love, only … “You get to choose.”

    I am grateful I made the choice to be baptized (and go to the temple). There are additional spiritual tools that I have gained that I could not have had without the covenants available within the Restoration. There has also been additional challenges. For me, I chose to follow the example of Ruth, leaving home and family to come to the land of Israel and the temple. I was blessed in that my husband also joined a year later. But he may have divorced me instead. But the Lord would have taken care of me.

    I can tell you there are blessings available for stepping out in faith. I can also tell you that all is not well in Zion. Pride and fear and unbelief do rule some people’s lives within the camp, this place you have paid such a dear price to join. But God’s blessing will be on you, as it was with Ruth.

    And God’s blessing will also be on you if you decide to wait … or not to join, but they will be different kinds of blessings.

    For me, it came down to the choice of following through on my deepest commitments to the Lord, that I would go wherever He was leading me.
    If you step out in faith (and again, you can choose the timing), there will be more blessings — and more life — and more opposition than you can imagine. But for me, choosing to stay where it was comfortable, protected, and loving, would have been worse, because I would have known deep inside that I didn’t have the guts to follow through on where my heart was leading me.

    That’s the key, whatever your choice, whenever your choice, know that the Lord loves you, and He will continue to guide you. I chose to step into the unknown, and am grateful I did. Yet it has honestly been miserable at times. Take your time. Listen to the Holy Spirit’s whispers.

    And love your dear parents, who are trying to save you from what may be the battle you are “called” to fight.

  14. Michael Riggs

    I started attending the LDS Church at 16 following visits from missionaries. My parents took the lessons at the same time, but were not interested. They made me wait until I was 18 to join the Mormon church because then I was an adult and no longer needed their permission. My father’s prime concern was that, if I joined, I would be pressured to go on a two-year mission and that might derail me from going to and finishing college. He knew that returned missionaries were strongly encouraged to marry and have lots of children soon after they returned and that would just make finishing college even more difficult if not impossible. My advice to these young minds is to wait…not because of the strain it will put on their relationship to their parents (mine improved over time, most do), but because it is a major life decision that shouldn’t be made at such an impressionable age. By the time I did end up leaving Mormonism, I had changed considerably. I was educated and had gone from being a conservative to a liberal thinker. If these two young people are already liberal, then why are they considering joining a VERY conservative movement? Do they hope to reform it from within? Ask a TBM liberal how people subscribe to Sunstone and Dialogue. It equates to being a very small pimple on the rear-end of the Mormon Church and periodically it gets squeezed. It isn’t any fun sitting in a SS class and hearing really obnoxious comments made about the place of women in the home, for example, and having to choose between sitting their quietly stewing or actually saying something and waiting to be stared at like you are spiritually dead. That is the reality of being a liberal Mormon and those on here who know that to be true should, in full disclosure, affirm that for these two who are sincerely seeking advice. By the time I left the LDS Church, I was getting along with my parents fine…they just wondered what took me so long to figure it out and so did I.

  15. I have a half black son, and I do not want him to be Mormon.

    Maybe I can offer some thoughts from the other side. I used to be Mormon, and I am no longer Mormon. I have made the rule that my son cannot be Mormon until he’s 18, even if he wants to.

    Shortly after I left the Mormon church, I found myself in a relationship with a black, liberal, intellectual man.

    Our son is half black, and it scares me at times. The reconciliation between prophets who are imperfect, and prophets who speak prophetically is one I cannot reconcile. To read Young’s words, “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so” causes trepidation. He doesn’t speak from opinion, rather he speaks prophetically, claiming it is the law of God. While I was at BYU, I had friends who believed that race mixing was sinful, and I have even heard comments form my Mormon family members on the issue. There are those who can reconcile this somehow, and still revere Young as a prophet, and somehow believe that in this case he wasn’t speak for God. I know the apologetic voice says he was speaking against slave rape and exploitation, and it was time appropriate. If you have faith that there is an explanation, then that is your spiritual journey.

    I cannot reconcile it.

    My son is 6, and when he was 4, he became aware of death. He asked my Mormon sister, who told him he would be resurrected one day. When he asked me to confirm it, I could not. He yelled at me, and I held him through the night as he told me I was wrong. That was one of the hardest experiences of my life. To have my son face mortality at 4 because his aunt told him he was definitely going to heaven, was so very hard on me.

    After a few days of relentless questions from my son, he asked me, “Why did you make me come alive?” I told him it was because I loved him and even if there was no heaven, I was so happy he was alive today. He asked me if he would come alive again? I said I didn’t know. He then said the sweetest thing to me, “Mom… I’m glad to be alive now… but mom, If I come alive again… I am going to find you, because all babies need a mommy.”

    To hear my sons loving expression of agnostic pragmatism (especially the word “if”) and mortality brought me to tears.

    After this experience, I told my mother and sister that they were never to take my son to church again, and to never speak of heaven as a foregone conclusion again in his presence.

    This week, I let up my ban on church attendance for my son. The reason being is I kept noticed my old ward members saying wonderful things about my son when my mom would post boastful grandmotherly comments on facebook. I realized there was a lot of love from my mother’s ward (the ward I grew up in) and I knew that those particular people didn’t think racist thoughts about my son. I gave my mother three stipulations on that. First was to always use believe instead of know if my son asks about church or heaven. Second was to answer honestly if my son asks about the Adam Cain doctrine or Brigham Young’s comments about inter-racial children. Finally to acknowledge that there are different gender roles, and that his mom doesn’t like that.

    What I want to say is, I imagine there are very real concerns that your parents may feel. I think you can find common ground there. Its very hard to hear the words, “You just have a problem with faith” if and when your parents express their concerns, and I promise to you, that’s not the issue. Its borne out of legitimate worry. But, I also believe that your parents should support you in any personal journey you should make after the age of 18. There are so many positive things from the church, and its not worth straining the relationship. Find a resource to help your parents understand, and acknowledge their concerns. They are coming from love.

    I want to say personally however, the feelings you feel are real. But they’re not Mormon feelings. They exist in all personal spiritual journeys and enlightenment. Please know that the warmth, love, burning spirit you feel exists in every spiritual traveler. That was the biggest realization I had after I left the church, the feelings I did feel didn’t prove Mormonism. If Mormonisms is your spiritual journey to take, more power to you, and I believe your parents will see that eventually, but please don’t think your feelings require you to be Mormon.

    • Kathy Datsko

      A real problem we have within the Mormon Church is the fact that Church members put the Prophet up on a pedestal. And they pretty much worship him (i.e. sing to him, talk profusely about him, determine and declare they will do *whatever* he says, and teach this to their children). But it’s not All or Nothing as these folks imply. Neil Andersen in General Conference said, “The leaders of the Church are honest but imperfect men” (pg 41 Liahona).
      The most loving thing we could do would be to help our dear Prophet off the pedestal we have put him on. As women, we know how horrible pedestals are. And as our Prophet seems to be struggling with Alzheimer’s, perhaps now is time to deal with this “Prophet = Perfect” lie.
      I can’t imagine the pain that you’ve had placed on you and your son because of twisted theology that would place Jesus’ teaching below that of Brigham Young or other men. Racist comments (as well as anti-female comments) are nothing more than philosophies of man mingled with scripture. Galatians clearly shows how that bondage is “bewitching” (i.e. from Satan). I encourage you to read Galatians with your son.
      The Gospel is true. Prophets are honest but imperfect men, and prophet worship is idolatry.

      • I have no personal problem with fallible prophets. I can reconcile that.

        The problem are these words…

        “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard…”
        “the penalty, under the law of God”
        “This will always be so”

        These are spoken as if it were from God. Since I know (I am purposely not using the word believe here) that these words are not of God, because of my own innate knowledge of the sacred divinity of my son, the logical conclusion that the prophet who spoke them was false.

        Again, I OK with fallible and mistakes. But when a prophet speaks prophetically, and goes out of his way to make it clear that he is speaking as the mouthpiece of God, there is no other conclusion that he is not a man of God.

      • Kathy Datsko

        Prophets of God have often misspoken / made gross errors in the past. Peter went for a time refusing to eat with Gentile believers in Christ; he was swayed by legalistic teaching from James. He needed to be rebuked by Paul. Jonah ran from God and tried to force God to judge Nineveh. Balaam was a prophet who obviously sinned. The problem is not with prophets who sin and lead others astray, it is when people lay down their agency to follow the prophet, and let the prophet do the thinking for them.

      • Then I am not the problem, because i know those words not to be of God. I know that Brigham Young did not speak the word of God when he said he was speaking the word of God, so because I know God’s love, I know that Brigham Young is not his prophet. You’re right, the problem is not with me, its with those who still believe he was of God.

  16. Heather

    NJJ,
    Don’t go to BYU or any church run school. Compromise with your mother and go to a public university instead. 30 years ago I went to BYU thinking it would be this wonderful spiritual experience where I would be among God’s “elect.” I was so wrong. In fact I came up against insular, conservative, judgmental, overbearing people that give the church such a bad name in the rest of the world.
    I found more spirituality and acceptance at the institute at our state university than I ever did at BYU. You can find an institute near almost any major college campus. Your mother will be appeased a little bit and you will get to associate with LDS students who are really committed to the gospel.
    We all disappoint our parents in some way. I didn’t marry in the temple, one of my sisters took her name off the records of the church. And yet our mother continued to love us despite her disappointment in us. Your mothers will too.

    • Excellent point about the Institute program! I’ve noticed that the kids who go to Institute classes as part of the cirriculuum (at BYU schools) hardly ever go when they come home between semesters/years. So, in areas where Institute is not mandatory for graduation, everyone there is there because they have decided to follow the prophetic counsel to “make Institute a priority,” including the volunteer teachers.

  17. LilyTiger

    You might want to check-out the Mormon Matters and Mormon Stories interviews with Fiona Givens. She talked about her conversion experience, the unfavorable reaction of her parents when she told them of her wish to join the church, and how she ultimately resolved it. (Let’s just say Shakespeare was involved.) It was very moving. Good luck!

  18. I have long felt that the only real reason for conversion is if the “new” religion fulfills your spiritual needs more than the one in which you were raised. But no one ever said it would be easy, and maybe it shouldn’tj be. Doing something hard (which can include living fully the religion into which you were born) makes you think about it, makes you examine it. And when dealing with your spiritual life this is a very good thing. I wish both of you strength upon strength (“Khazak, khazak” that is, strength, strength, is from the Book of Joshua). My prayers are with you.

  19. SA

    I think it is important to study, study, study. Do not rush into this decision. Truth has nothing to fear and nothing to hide. If God is truly calling you to the LDS Church, that will not change in a year or two. If your parents see that you have done your research, and know the history of the LDS church AS well as the church that you are leaving (it sounds as if the second writer was raised Catholic?), they will respect your decision in time. If they believe that you not only prayed but also studied (the scriptures and church history of BOTH religious traditions), they should be proud that they raised a smart, intellectual, and spiritual child who can make decisions based on their heart AND mind. My belief has always been to be open to spiritual experiences but to make sure that the spiritual experiences are confirmed with an INTELLECTUAL experience of research and asking TONS of questions (and getting answers from multiple perspectives). Truth has nothing to hide and should be able to answer your questions and the questions of your parents. Make sure you really understand the reasons your mother left the LDS church (emotionally and theologically)… so that you can make sure that doesn’t happen to you and you can assure her of that. Your mother loves you and wants to spare you pain. For the second writer, consider asking your parents to study the LDS church and the Catholic church with you. When I expressed interest in Mormonism, my dad said “Let’s look at this together”. We read books, the BOM, Doctrine & Covenants, other LDS scriptures, the Gospel Principals Manual, talked with faithful Mormons AND ex-Mormons, and prayed together. We also studied Early Christianity together and Evangelical theology (since that is the perspective he was coming from). He encouraged me to look at everything because Truth has nothing to hide. God reveals himself to our hearts and to our minds. After time, research, and prayer if you still decide to be baptized in the LDS church, be sensitive to your parents feelings. It is a loss for them. They may be worried that they may not be able to attend your future wedding or the weddings of their future grandchildren. They are probably nervous that you won’t participate in family functions or that you will judge them. They are afraid for you AND for them.

  20. velardavid@hotmail.com

    If a religion teaches racist things about your history, your people, your heritage and ancestors, and those things are clearly false…

    Why would you continue on with it?

    Your mom isn’t against Mormonism because of just the racist things people do or say

    It’s because of the racist things that the doctrine teaches. And since that racist doctrine is false, is based on lies, is based on racism…

    Yes it WILL divide your family.

    What you feel is spiritual or great about it is not because of Mormonism, but it’s simply because of your interactions and seeking a relationship with God. It is not “certain” that you find truth when you feel that way, it’s just that you have “conviction”

    But like a love potion, your conviction is attached to the first thing you set your eyes on, and here it’s Mormonism. People do it with every religion, clearly. But most people don’t realize it, so they don’t step back and see that their conviction ABOUT God is not “revelation” about the religion.

    Black people did not come from a mark on Cain, or on some “Lamanite” native American curse. Not one dark skinned person in existence came about this way. Mormon SCRIPTURES teach otherwise. THAT is why your mom is hurt, because those same teachings were found in other Christian religions that “added” it in the 1800s and used it for slavery.

    Those others by and large renounced it, apologized for it and do NOT teach it.

    Mormonism DOES!

    • David E. Richardson

      BLACKS AND THE PRIESTHOOD
      Technically it is incorrect to accuse the institutional LDS Church of once being racist because it denied black African men the priesthood during the interval between Joseph Smith and 1978. A black skin was not the reason why black African men were denied the priesthood as evidenced by the fact that the LDS Church has never denied the priesthood to black Fijians, black East Indians, and black aborigines of Australia. So among all the other black people, why were only black people of African descent denied the priesthood?

      “In Nauvoo, on March 26, 1847, Brigham Young told recently-ordained Warner McCary that holding the priesthood had nothing to do with race, ‘for [from] one blood has God made all flesh, we have to repent [to] regain what we have lost’” (a paraphrase of Acts 17:26).
      “But as the saints were driven from one state to another, and as slavery became more and more a political and social issue, the LDS leaders were forced to adapt Church policies to fit the demands of the times and of their new locales. When the saints left the anti-slavery region in the North and settled in Missouri, they found that their aversion to slavery was unwelcome. So determined were the Missourians to protect slavery that hundreds of ‘border ruffians’ slipped into neighboring Kansas where the question of whether or not Kansas should enter the Union as a slave state was being voted on in accordance with the Government’s policy of ‘Popular Sovereignty.’

      “Meanwhile, to balance the scales, abolitionists, such as John Brown and his militia, moved into Kansas to stop the Missourians from pretending to be bona fide voters favoring slavery. The results were battles and bloodshed. During that period, the state came to be known as “Bleeding Kansas.” When the border ruffians returned to Missouri, they would surely have joined the mobs who were already persecuting the Saints, and there would have been many more massacres than the one at Haun’s Mill.

      “The Church, not wanting to bring down more persecution on itself, was forced to adopt a neutral position. It was a matter of survival. Church leaders had been given a commission to take the gospel to all the world—including both north and south of the Mason-Dixon Line. So in the North, the abolitionists were pleased that LDS missionaries represented a church that admitted Blacks into membership, while in the South, the pro-slavery population was somewhat subdued by a policy that did not give the Blacks any kind of power or authority, such as the priesthood. After all, no church at that time was giving the priesthood to anyone but the clergy. Even so, the LDS Church was persecuted in both sections of the country: In the North, the Church was not doing enough for the Blacks; in the South, the Church was doing too much for them. In fact, several Mormon missionaries were killed while serving in the Southern states.

      “Even though the Civil War should have freed the blacks in every way, these regional attitudes persisted for over 100 years. History has recorded many instances of whites who were killed because of their sympathy towards the blacks and for their protests for more rights and privileges for blacks all the way up into the 1960s when it all came to a head with the passing of civil rights legislation.

      “Meanwhile, the Church grew in both regions of the country. Had the Church taken sides with the Northern States, hundreds of thousands of Southerners would not have had the opportunity to join the Church over the last 100 years and would not have had the opportunity to worship in temples such as those in Atlanta Georgia, Washington D.C., and Dallas Texas “(AHR).

      Another reason for denying the priesthood to black African people between the time of Joseph Smith and 1978 probably has to do with the same reason or reasons why, not just the priesthood, but the whole gospel itself was denied the gentiles until after Christ’s resurrection. Revoking those bans required a revelation to Peter (Acts 10: 9-19). At least the gospel was not denied to black people during all of LDS Church history, as it was denied to the gentiles while Christ lived on the Earth.

      Before anyone starts throwing away their belief in Christ and the New Testament when they consider the denial of the gospel and its priesthood to the gentiles during the time Christ lived on Earth, it should be remembered that God’s decisions of when to allow the gospel to be taken to the gentiles, when to resume giving the priesthood to black people of African descent, and when to command and revoke polygamy is based on bringing to pass the greatest good for the greatest number of people (keeping in mind each individual) on Earth in the long run. Those who find this possibility hard to accept, should remember: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8). “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Cor. 3:19).

    • Absolutely. What will you say on judgement day when God asks you “Why did you follow these racist teachings? Didn’t you realize they weren’t mine?”

    • David E. Richardson

      RACISM AND THE PRIESTHOOD
      A black skin was not the reason why black African men were denied the priesthood during the interval between Joseph Smith and 1978 as evidenced by the fact that the LDS Church has never denied the priesthood to black Fijians, black East Indians, and black aborigines of Australia. So among all black people, why were only black people of African descent denied the priesthood during that interval?

      When Mormons from the anti-slavery North settled in the border state of Missouri a few years before the Civil War, they encountered fierce opposition because of their non-traditional Christian religion, their outstanding work ethic, their voting=block potential, and their aversion to slavery. So determined were the Missourians to preserve and protect slavery that hundreds of their ‘border ruffians’ slipped into neighboring Kansas where the question of whether or not Kansas should enter the Union as a slave state was being voted on in accordance with the Government’s policy of ‘Popular Sovereignty. When the border ruffians returned to Missouri from carrying out bloody battles in “bleeding Kansas,” they would surely have joined the mobs who were already persecuting the slavery hating Saints, and there would have been many more massacres of Mormons like the one at Haun’s Mill.

      To avoid bringing down more persecution on itself, the Church, now concentrated in Missouri, adopted something of a neutral position. The leaders of the Church of Jesus Church had been given the commission by him to take the gospel to all the world—which included both north and south of the Mason-Dixon Line. in both regions, cultural issues had to be considered. As a result of the policies adopted by the Church to fulfill that divine commission, the anti-slavery North was somewhat pacified because black Africans were admitted to Church membership. The pro-slavery South was somewhat pacified by a policy that did not yet grant the priesthood to black males. Even so the LDS Church was persecuted in both sections of the country for not doing more. According to the North, the Church was not doing enough for the blacks such as giving them the priesthood. According to the South, the Church was doing too much for black people by admitting them into the Church. The opposition in the South was so great that several Mormon missionaries were killed while serving in the Southern states.

      Even though the Civil War should have freed the blacks in every way, these regional attitudes persisted for over 100 years. Whites were killed because of their sympathy for black people and for their protests for more rights and privileges for blacks all the way up into the 1960s when it came to a head with the passing of civil rights legislation.

      Another reason for withholding the priesthood from black African males between the time of Joseph Smith and 1978 is probably similar to the the same reason or reasons why, not just the priesthood, but the whole gospel itself was withheld from the gentiles until after Christ’s resurrection. Revoking those withholdings during Christ’s life on Earth required a revelation to Peter (Acts 10: 9-19). At least, in modern LDS Church history, the gospel was not denied black people as it, along with the priesthood, was denied to the gentiles while Christ lived on the Earth.

      Before anyone reading this starts throwing away his or her belief in Christ and the New Testament when considering the denial of the gospel and its priesthood to the gentiles during the time Christ lived on Earth, it should be remembered that all of God’s decisions, such as when to allow the gospel to be taken to the gentiles, when to resume giving the priesthood to black people of African descent, and when to command and revoke polygamy, are based on bringing to pass the greatest good for the greatest number of people (keeping in mind each individual) on Earth in the long run. Those who find this possibility hard to accept, should remember: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8). “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Cor. 3:19).

    • Karen

      Have you ever seen TED talks? I suggest you look at ‘The Power of Vulnerability’ by Brene Brown. She explains our need to feel connected, however she also talks about to be truly happy we need to be vulnerable – she discusses this group as the ‘whole hearted.’ In the original hebrew ‘perfect’ means to be whole. It does not mean to be perfect in terms of a list of standards, tenets of a religion or anything else. I have found that true happiness has occurred for me through discovering who I really am. I have had to think for myself. Accept the mysteries of life and not feel I have to be perfect all of the time – the LDS church puts huge pressure on people to be perfect, hence in Utah many women have to take anti-depresents to cope. Any religion is a ‘formula of thinking.’ that focuses on the external behaviour of a person rather than allowing them to make choices for themselves based on their own feelings and experiences. I’m not saying don’t join the LDS church but I am saying find out what it really is – don’t believe everything everyone tells you, check it out for yourself through study and original source documents. I once heard it said that you should be ‘in the LDS church’ but not ‘of the LDS church’. Independent thought is the only way you will achieve this, doing what you feel is right based on your own inner wisdom rather than following the rules of a religion or any other belief system. It is not developed just for you, your unique wonderful energy and personality. Enjoy the community of the LDS but don’t feel you have to be baptised to do it. Would a loving God expect you to jump through hoops to get back to him? Think about it – I am a universalist (if your not familiar with that, have a look at it),. Your mother who is older and wiser I suspect understands all of this. However, the choice should still be yours and whatever choice you make should be respected. .

      • Goodness David E Richardson. Right is right. That’s very complicated apologetic writings. Occum’s razor applied. The racist history of the church was wrong. It is not of God.

      • AlternatePossibilities

        Razbery28: The priesthood (Aaronic) was conferred only upon men of the tribe of Levi, not upon women nor upon men of other tribes and certainly not upon non-Israelites.

        The priesthood was not given to the gentiles while Christ lived on the Earth. Neither was the gospel itself.

        Israelites could not intermarry with non-Israelites.

        The scriptures speak of people who were “favored of the Lord” and God’s “chosen people.”

        Were these examples “not of God” either?

        We should be careful what we call “racism” and what we claim is “not of God.” “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8)

        God has his reasons for withholding the priesthood and withholding the gospel during certain time intervals. The main reason surely has to do with bringing to pass the greatest good for the greatest number of people in the long run

      • I think teachings like that are from a hijacked pulpit and false prophets. So yes, I think they are not of God. You say God’s ways are not our ways, yet when people spoke of God’s will, it usually corresponded to their ways. That’s not merely convenient. Ethnocentrism is one of the worst traits of mankind, and you think that its a mystery of God’s? Its hard to imagine God will find me guilty of shunning ethnocentrism and racism, and raise up those who preached it. I don’t know how you have your spiritual experiences, but I have mind, and they tell me racism is a baseless human desire, not at all of God.

        Think for yourself, and stop following the words of apologists. God’s love is real, and it is not racist. God is love.

      • Michael Riggs

        AlternatePossiblities: Your response, while totally a standard LDS apologetic “pat” answer, reflects a total lack of understanding of even basic Hebrew Bible historical perspective. I suggest you read actual scholarly works by authors outside of your faith tradition’s “approved” publishers once in a while and try and learn. You will find, for example, that there was a tension between inclusion and exclusion of “the other” at different times following the return of the Jews to Palestine after Babylonian exile. Ask yourself “why Jonah and Ruth (both powerful stories of inclusion of non-Jews) were retained in the collected cannon” if your version of exclusion was so absolute?

  21. Annette

    Your situation is NOT unusual. It’s VERY COMMON for young people of your ages to become seriously religious, particularly if that religion is separate from the parents’ religion, or if the parents are not religious.

    It’s part of becoming more independent and finding a sure footing during a phase in life where so many things are changing.

    I was in a similar place. Raised without religion. I became a very serious Born-Again Christian when I was 13. I embraced very conservative views that worried my parents, but they never really fought me on it. I went to church every week, participated in Bible studies, prayed fervently, participated in every youth offering.
    I met my husband and we were missionaries for a while.
    We’re atheists now, and when we talk about our years as very devoted religious people, we realize that, in our case, what we wanted more than anything was community and a rule system that made the world look secure, and we were willing to believe completely absurd things (talking donkeys and snakes. Women turned to salt. Hundreds of people rising from their graves to wander around on earth–after Jesus’ resurrection [we only read one line in the Bible about that, funny we don’t discuss it more) in order to have that.
    We are now atheists. When I look back, I wish I hadn’t throwing myself so hard into faith. I wish I had been secure in myself. Enjoyed the people I did and the community I had without having the feel that I needed to “join the club.” I believed, I honestly did, but when I took away the emotional need, I was able to see what was really beneath my conversion.

    While my faith helped me in some ways, I would have made many of the same good decisions for my life that I did without the compulsion of my faith, and I would have avoided many, many pains, regrets, and shames that went along with it.

    I suggest you embrace your life with reason, logic, and love, and NOT allow feeling and faith to the basis of thought and action. If you can learn to do that as a young person, it will serve you will.

  22. Love the advice “ask mormon girl” shared! I just posted on my blog about Eugene England. As a new member he provided a bridge for me. Bridge to my liberal ways & not Mormon and inactive Mormon family and the goodness of the gospel. I was 18 years 11 months old when I was baptised. My mother was raised in Utah and had left the church in her youth. She had her issues about the good and the bad. I remember the searching I did and needed to do and continue to know truth is found by thoses seeking. Keep seeking. Stay open. Check out my post and see if Eugene England’s ideas help. http://www.findingfrecklesblog.blogspot.com. He has written essays on the topics brought up by both families. I love the gospel and continue to be grateful for the Church. It is an amazing organization and (but) I am personally lead by the Holy Ghost. You can be too.

  23. Allan

    From what I have seen over the years is that Mormonism was caught in the 80′s or so being racist. Their card was pulled and they folded meaning that now they accept everyone which I believe was just a ploy to get people off their backs. Anything that teaches this and is based on racism you want to stay away from. Your mom is afraid for you because of the many questionable things this “religion” does. Look hard and you will see most of what this religion was based on is still there just watered down to appease those around them so that are not called out again. Only 3% of Mormons are African American ask yourself what are the other 97%?

  24. Paul B

    This is a complex situation that could turn out great or become a rift and wedge between you and your parents that could take decades to prepare. Very wise to make a query to Joanna and here “staff.” There are a ton of amazing, good, smart, wise and loving people on this blog.

    Please consider this:

    Remember, influence is very paradoxical. Having influence with your parents won’t come with high decibel level or passion or persuasion but love, kindness and understanding. You read all about this in D&C 121. Don’t let there be any anger or negative emotion, which is super hard of course.

    As a very wise person once said, (adapted a little here) “Let your parent’s feelings live and over time they will die birthing…” Listen to them, validate them, understand them…..deeply, sincerely and kindly. Do this with authentic kindness and love; you can’t fake it and don’t try; make your heart right (yes, use God for this……even without the holy ghost…you have the light of christ and you will be AWESOME) show them how well they have taught you; show them the kind of person that you want to be. I would even offer to them them that you are happy to delay your baptism for years until you are 18+ just as a gesture to honor them. “Mom, I love you and want to be close to you and I will delay this happily if you ask me to…….for no other reason than to respect you.”

    I love this church as it brings power, beauty, goodness and so much more to me; it brings a powerful life process to our lives that is transformative (95% of our behavior is process and system driven); it is indescribably amazing with some of the best people I know in the world (no monopoly of course). However, it has hurt a lot of people; the issues that your mom is bringing up are completely valid; it is tough for so so many. You can’t think or act linear on this. The people in this church can be really tough to hang with because of their fear, upbringing, being in bubbles but they are just kids (even some of them or are the oldest)…….they just don’t know any better and many of them are local and more senior leaders….but they are so so good trying so hard their best; some of the thinking and the DNA that seems to permeate some thinking and behaving is indescribably challenging. However, all organizations and people are incredibly messed up. This church is profoundly powerful and good even with all the mistakes (yes, I say mistakes as an active, leader in this church and there are quite of few in my opinion that are perpetuated now and from the early days) but that does not negate the divinity. Those who condemn the canon or leaders on a the many mistakes throw the infinite good out, which is so tragic for them. You will be blessed more powerfully that you can ever imagine. However, now is the time to be close to your mom and dad; respect them, honor them while you go to church. You will be fine without the Holy Ghost for a year or two (despite what the Missionaries will say or your local Bishop…..:) ) Love and honor them; show them the person that you desire to be; affirm that you believe and that you will keep attending like a member; keep studying and making a special effort with them. Then, watch the miraculous transformation that will take place.

    You are beautiful!

    Good luck!

    Paul B

  25. Jo

    I felt I should share my story with the people that submitted questions. Long story short, I’m a female in my late 20s that comes from a very unreligious background. I investigated the church about 1.5 years ago and have been a member for a year now. I know I’m lucky that I was able to do this while living on my own, etc, but I understand how hard it can be too as I have not told my mother as I know she detests Mormons and absolutely thinks we’re a cult. I am 100% certain she would disown me if she found out. And actually, I have a lot of great friends that I think would view me differently if they found out, so I don’t tell many people.

    I would suggest that you not give up on the church, even if getting baptized has to wait. If it is truly something that is right for you, things will work out in the end. I have friends that had to go through great trials with their families when they joined at young ages as the only LDS members in their families. And now they have served missions, hold high positions, etc, and their families have learned to accept them for who they are. In some ways I am jealous of this, but now I consider myself to have just as much, if not more, of a family in the church than outside of it.

    Perhaps this calls for a compromise between you and your family. To respect each other’s ideas and feelings. To possibly give it a trial run without the commitment of a baptism, even if you know you will do it one day. Maybe after you’ve been attending church, etc, for several months, they will see that converts/investigators don’t always become brainwashed and change overnight. Some of us just remain the awesome people we are, and maybe even become that much more awesome as a result.

  26. Luciana Paulino

    I am a black woman who joined the church at the age of 13 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I´ve been in the Church for 18 years now and in that period of time, I have served in many different positions and studied much of the Church doctrine.
    I have had the chance to meet people in your situation and what I tell you is not to be hurt — your parents oppose your decision because they love you. Loving you means they want what is best for you, and they do not think the Church meets that criterium. Having said that, however, I fully support you in making your decision to join the Church despite their position. As you stand by your faith and love your parents back, the Spirit will show you how to show your appreciation for them.
    I have found that standing our ground does not have to be aggressive. And as you live the teachings of the Church and that changes you for the better, your family is likely to be more accepting.
    As for the Church doctrine being racist… There are many racist comments to quote from said by Church leaders in the past, but those ideas have no support in our standard works. I dare you to find a religion that has been around for over 50 years that has no history of racism. My reckoning is that the Lord was merciful to those imperfect men, and I am hoping the same mercy to be upon me and my own prejudices.
    I am still active in the Church because I have found that by living its principles I am getting closer to my Heavenly Father. The light that comes from living the commandments is noticed by everyone around me and I am so blessed. There was a time in my life when I even wished I didn´t know the Church was true… But I have had too many experiences with the Holy Ghost to deny it. I cannot ignore it having had the Lord´s company on a daily basis.

  27. AlternatePossibilities

    To Michael Riggs:
    The LDS Church has never denied the priesthood to all black people. Worthy black male Fijians, black East Indians, and black aborigines of Australia have always been eligible to receive the priesthood. Likewise the gospel and its priesthood may not have been denied to every non-Israelite people. The people of Nineveh may have been an exception to the usual exclusion rule although, admittedly, it can be argued that the people of Nineveh were only called to repentance, not invited to join the Jewish religion. The Jews at that time, including the prophet Jonah, hated the people of Nineveh and wanted them destroyed because of past conflicts with them. It would have been (should have been) a different story after their repentance.

    By the way, Ruth was not of Moabite lineage. She was an Israelite living in the land of Moab. See http://12tribehistory.com/was-ruth-a-moabite/).

    • Michael Riggs

      The way the LDS Church got around the Pacific Islander Black blood conundrum was to quote, I think, Joseph F. Smith in saying they were Lamanites, and therefore, able to be ordained to the Mormon priesthood. Thank goodness for the 1978 change or there would be yet another DNA issue for the faithful to deal with! The link you included, while not from an LDS source, is nevertheless, from a literalistic exegetical apologist and not a scholar who understands (or refuses to use) the methods of higher Biblical criticism. in other words, not helpful in gaining any serious information about the topic.

      • AlternatePossibilities

        The fact that black Pacific Islanders could always have the priesthood shows that the LDS Church was never racist by its most inflammatory definition. A better term to describe postponing or interrupting the priesthood for black people of African descent would be “culturism.” That term would also apply to Christ’s original apostles postponing the time when the gospel would be taken to gentiles until after Christ’s resurrection. Again, God authorized or allowed these postponements of the gospel and the priesthood for certain peoples for certain purposes about which we can hypothesize but not yet declare for certain.

        “Charges of racism are used to silence all of those who would talk about the negative parts of cultural diversity. Worrying about racism makes some sense…Racism is stupid and dangerous. But if diversity is real, culturism is necessary.” (http://www.culturism.us/CulturistDefinition.htm)

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