Those who leave…
When my husband (John), a ‘golden’ convert to the church and an RM, first told me that he was losing his testimony, I got angry. Much of my anger stemmed from the fact that my husband’s choices changed my outlook on our future relationship. I felt that if John was changing his ideas about church doctrine, he might also be changing other aspects of his behavior that would seriously impact my ability to trust him. I wondered if his beliefs in Mormonism diminished, would his belief in our marriage and his love for me diminish, too? During that tough time I read many church talks about apostasy and I pondered the comments I’d heard over the pulpit on this topic. I’d heard bishops say that those who lose testimonies have hidden sins, or leave the church simply because they are unable to live up to Mormon standards. I thought of people I’d known whose standards changed dramatically when they left the church and/or whose marriages crumbled in the wake.
In the years since John first told me of his loss of faith, I’ve come to believe that some people do leave the church for doctrinal reasons, not necessarily because of sin. I think it’s difficult to judge this, though, because if we see this same person a few weeks later with a cup of coffee in hand, do we assume that they really left because they had problems with the Word of Wisdom?
And I wonder what your experience is–do you know those who have left the church for doctrinal reasons and not because of sin? If so, how were they judged by their Mormon community after their departure? Did people assume they left because of misdeeds? Was there gossip about possible transgression? Do you think that someone who once had a testimony can lose it without sin as a catalyst?