I grew up in the LDS church and have ancestors that go back to the early days of Mormonism. One of them was even a bodyguard for Joseph Smith :) I was born and raised in Utah, but have lived in Texas for the past decade.
I served a mission in New South Wales, Australia from 1985-1987. In 1989 I graduated from BYU, and went on to graduate school in Texas where I met my wife. We were married in the Jordan River temple and have two small children.
For most of my life, I had a strong testimony that the LDS church was "true" based on various spiritual experiences. I served in positions of responsibility, including being a counselor in a bishopric for 5 years. I believe the church was good for me in some ways, given the focus on principles such as family, service, integrity, and healthy living.
However, a couple of years ago I took a step back. At that point I had passed all the Mormon milestones and it only remained for me to "endure to the end" to ensure my exaltation. But I felt like my spiritual progress had stagnated. I was no longer growing, there was a general spiritual malaise, and I was bored with the pace of the Mormon hamster wheel. I was unsatisfied with the black and white lenses through which I saw the world, compared to the beautiful colors that I now appreciate. I found myself looking at other church members who seemed content, and realized that I didn't want to stay in that rut for the rest of my life. The church was no longer meeting my needs.
This gave me some breathing room. Some Mormons may conclude that my motivation was due to a desire for sin, or because I was offended by someone. None of those things is true. My only motivation has been the desire to know the truth. I expressed my growing doubts to my wife, but continued going through the motions for another year.
I wrote the following poem, which conveys the confusion, growth, and ultimate enlightenment resulting from my journey:
As a Child
I made a deliberate decision to open my eyes. I felt that the sincere pursuit of truth was more important to me than anything else. So I began to question everything. Were my spiritual experiences merely self-created emotional experiences, because I wanted to believe? Or were they perhaps genuine experiences from God that I had misconstrued as evidence for the authenticity of the LDS church? Is there really a God? Is there life after death? Was Jesus more than just a great teacher? And what about all the "Anti-Mormon" rhetoric I had encountered in the past? I had always brushed it off as the product of people with a personal agenda for converting me to their idea of truth. I had found it fairly easy to dismiss the points people had raised to me in the past. But now I really wanted to know if there was any substance to those concerns. I wanted to know if the LDS church was in fact the "only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased." (D&C 1:30)
So I created this document. It covers what I consider to be pivotal questions regarding the church's history, authority, and doctrine. I have tried to be objective in this process, and have collected information from all sources, both pro and con. I have given the Mormon church every opportunity to address these concerns. However, based on the strong evidence presented here I ultimately decided to leave the church.
I have shared with my former church leaders that a "spiritual witness" is not sufficient to restore me to the church at this point. I have had many such witnesses in the past, and am no longer willing to trust them at the exclusion of my intellect. However, it's not my intention to "throw the baby out with the bathwater." Although I no longer "know" there is a God, I hope there is. I feel that I am following the pathway of truth, and am willing to go wherever it takes me.
Have you ever seen The Matrix? Like Neo, I have finally answered the phone and awakened to the real world. It's not the utopia I thought it was, but at least my eyes are open. This is an exciting time. I feel like I'm growing again!
I hope that the information presented here is helpful to you in your own personal journey toward truth. If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to contact me.