Event #7: The Fruit of Apostasy

My wife and I have been warned throughout our lives about the tragedy that would materialize if we were ever foolish enough to leave the church. Apostates, we were taught, become drug addicts, get divorced, declare bankruptcy and more or less stumble into the gaping jaws of hell. Being well-acquainted with at least as many non-Mormons as Mormons, I knew at least from my adult years onward that these were exaggerations. But when my wife and I finally decided to quit paying tithing and attending church, I quelled any worry I felt by telling myself that if we were making a mistake, we would surely find out swiftly, if not painfully.

And the results were swift; but they were also something short of painful. Since leaving the church, my wife and I find ourselves with more family time than we have ever had (because we attend no Mormon meetings or appointments), more money for charitable contributions and family vacations than we have ever had (because we no longer pay tithing) and most important by far, a sense of peace I had not previously experienced during my adulthood. The reasons for this peace are complicated, and I’m not sure I understand them all. But at least a few of the reasons are easily identifiable.

Being LDS is stressful, and it is difficult to appreciate how stressful it is until you fully divorce yourself from all church commitments and correspondence. When I was a member, the church made astounding demands on my family’s time, especially time that most people would think belongs to families (e.g., Saturday mornings, Tuesday evenings, Sunday mornings and afternoons). After I left the church, I stumbled upon a research article on “time affluence” (and the benefits of reclaiming your time as your own) and the article helped me realize why, even though I had always felt a powerful sense of duty while a member of the church, I had rarely found much joy in my membership. I recall that even as a missionary I had moments when I quietly admitted to myself that I hated proselytizing and was probably experiencing depressive episodes, but my feelings were irrelevant and I had to press forward. I was convinced at that time that there was no greater work than preaching the gospel, so what did it matter if I felt terrible sometimes?

A second way in which leaving the church has brought me peace is that it has allowed me to live authentically. For most of my adult years there have been portions of LDS doctrine that have bothered me, but because I had no constructive means of discussing my concerns, I generally kept quiet about them and played the Peter Priesthood I was expected to play in Mormon circles. I remember watching a documentary about boys in a yeshiva and feeling envious about the freedom of orthodox Jews (but perhaps not Jewesses) to argue about what their scriptures meant. Where in the LDS church do members debate? For years I acted as though all was well with my testimony, and now I feel the peace that comes from living according to what I believe, with the freedom to adapt if my beliefs change. Free of any imposed code of conduct based on a religious order, I even have the freedom to follow my beliefs if they change again. There is no such thing as being excommunicated from atheism, and ultimately, I’m going to follow the truth wherever it leads me.

But perhaps the greatest source of peace in my life outside the church comes from experiencing a deep meaningfulness that is neither mysterious nor contrived. I now believe that life has no meaning independent of the meaning we assign to it ourselves, and I feel empowered by that belief. I no longer depend on a mysterious, semi-estranged and highly unlikely father from a distant corner of the universe to tell me what my place in the cosmos is and what I should do about it. The meaning of my life is not available in obtuse verses or in mandatory weekly meetings. I have constructed my life’s meaning for myself, by contemplating what ends I want to achieve (for myself and everyone else I care about) and how best to achieve them. No one else can do this for me, and I don’t want them to.

So in my case at least, the fruits of apostasy have included more control over my time, a greater sense of being true to myself and an increased sense of meaning in life. If these are the gaping jaws of hell, then I recommend them to everyone.


  1. Amen, Brother! Thanks so much for posting your thoughts online! I identify with an incredible amount of what you have so thoughtfully written, and you've inspired me to put my own story out there.

  2. I cannot disagree with a single thing you have written. Absolutely beautifully put, very thoughtful, very honorable, and truthful to a fault. I have gone through almost everything you have gone through in the church (minus a mission), and wonder the very same things. I will probably maintain my activity in the church, but mostly because I do not want to embarrass my very active and good adult children. I admire what you and your wife have done. You have great courage and conviction.

  3. Hi there. I am not a Mormon, never have been, and never will be, but I am currently one of Jehovah's Witnesses. I do believe in God and that he created the universe. My religion also teaches why Jehovah would allow wickedness and suffering for thousands of years. 6,000 years is a long time to imperfect humans but a very short time to God to prove humans can't rule themselves successfully apart from God's rule. I thought your posts were well written, as I've never believed in the LDS church. I've also experienced imperfect encounters with Jehovah's Witness elders and that can be troubling if you expect them to be better (or perfect) than they can possibly be. I have mixed feelings about your story. I'm glad you left the Mormon religion but feel sad you seem to believe in evolution and atheism. My young cousin is an Absurdist and he has stated something similar to what you stated, that humans make their own meaning. You are very fortunate that your wife shares your anti-Mormon beliefs. It could have turned out differently. Our website has a short article on why creationism is reasonable and scientific and also another one on why God would allow suffering and wickedness. If you ever feel inclined, please visit http://www.watchtower.org.

  4. See how & why I left mormonism: Youtube:
    Edy Meredith Testimony

  5. That's one of the most calm, rational, and objective descriptions of a Mormon's 'loss of faith' that I've ever read. Thanks for sharing that.

    Over the years I've found that ex-Mormons are some of my favorite people. Not just because we have a common history (I'm one too.) but because they are people who have gone through the gauntlet and emerged on the other side as rational, independent, free-thinkers. (Not all, but most.) People who haven't been that deeply buried in dogma quite often don't even realize that they're knee deep in it. Ex-Mormons have typically pulled themselves out of that swamp and are walking free. If only everyone could.

    Thanks again.

  6. Thank you for sharing your story; it means a lot to hear that people have felt the way I feel.
    Take care!

  7. Thanks for sharing your story man, I too was in your shoes in 2007. I started reading the Bible and researching LDS history and decided with my wife to leave the Mormon church. We both accepted Jesus Christ as our personal savior and haven't looked back since. The relationships with our Mormon families and freinds changed quite a bit. Every time we are around family it feels like we're the white elephant in the room, but I wouldn't trade that for Mormonism though.

  8. Going through this right now. The end stages anyways... My only fear about making the break is of estranging my family... So far my wife and I are closet athiests who look for excuses to not go to church.