I remember shortly before I believed and confessed Romans 10:9-10, proclaiming that Jesus is my only Savior and source of righteousness before God, I struggled with the reality that if I made this confession it would surely bring division and possibly hatred in my relationship with my friends, co-workers, and of course, my LDS family. Jesus addresses this struggle in Luke 14:28-33 when He said:
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, this man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So, likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”
At the time as I was considering this, I knew that I was not happy with my current sinful lifestyle and I knew things had to change, so that is why I had started looking into biblical Christianity in the first place. I knew there was a possibility that my confession of faith would cause problems with my relationships, so I was battling with these ideas for a while, but I eventually gave in to God’s drawing of me (John 6:44) to personally accept Jesus and to become adopted into the family of God as described in Ephesians 1:5.
At first, everything seemed fine until I started confessing to my friends and co-workers my faith that trusting Jesus is all I need for salvation. This is when a few of my friends stopped calling me and started avoiding me. The few friends I had left that would associate with me were living a lifestyle that was no longer desirable to me as 2 Corinthians 5:17 describes that I had become a “new creature.” So, it was not long before those friendships vanished as well.
I had the same problem with co-workers, in that, through conviction of wanting to live an honest life, I could no longer perform work tasks that were regularly done against company policies and regulations. This caused my co-workers to ridicule me for my change in work practices and my boss to retaliate against me for the same reasons.
Then there was family! A few days after being saved, I was baptized at the local Baptist church, and I invited my LDS daughter to attend my baptism. I was mildly surprised that she attended. At the time, she didn’t seem upset but somewhat relieved that I had changed lifestyles.
Then, a few days later while talking to my LDS mom, I told her that I had been baptized the previous Sunday. There was silence on the phone for what seemed like a lifetime, and then she asked why I had chosen to do this. I explained that I had been saved by Jesus a week ago and that I had chosen to be baptized as an outward confession of my new faith in Jesus.
At this, my mother became angry saying that I had already been baptized in the LDS Church and I didn’t need to be baptized again. I responded by telling her that my LDS baptism didn’t count because it was performed by the Mormon Church and that I needed to be re-baptized to show my faith in Jesus. Needless to say, this started the unraveling of my relationship with my LDS family.
My LDS family lives in a different state so our contact was mostly by phone, but when I did visit, it seemed that I could cut the tension with a knife. They would ask questions and say things like:
“We hear you have a band at your church and then they would laugh or they would say, do you all smoke and drink at church like those other churches do?” My mom tried to put on a smile, but it was obvious she too was not very happy with my change in faith.
For a year after I had been saved, I had been trying to have my named removed from the LDS Church by letter, but had not been successful even though I had visited with two different LDS bishops in my area, presenting them with my letter of resignation and explaining that I no longer believed the LDS Church is true, nor recognized the LDS Church as my spiritual authority. I had requested that my name be removed from the Church records, and I knew that my request would be answered by ex-communication from the LDS Church. Yet, my request was not answered until Laura (my then wife-to-be) submitted her own letter of resignation requesting her name to be removed from the LDS records as well. Finally, the LDS Church ex-communicated both of us and her 8-year old daughter who had been baptized by them just a few months prior.
When the news of my ex-communication from the LDS Church reached my daughter, who was attending an LDS school in Utah, she returned home from school to tell me she hated me and never wanted to see me again. After a while, my daughter eventually started talking to me again, but at that time our relationship was strained to the point of breaking. This also increased the tension in my family towards me and Laura.
About a year later, my daughter married a returned missionary at the Provo temple. Of course, my wife Laura and I were not allowed to attend the ceremony because it was in the temple and only temple-worthy Mormons are allowed in to witness the ceremony. Then, at the reception, I was placed at the end of the reception line, far from my daughter and son-in-law. Not once did my daughter introduce me as her father during her entire reception. The strain in our relationship continued to be compounded by my relationship with Jesus and the fact that I was actively witnessing to the Mormon community in my home town, sharing how the Jesus Mormons believe in is a different Jesus than the One taught in the Bible.
Through her friends, she found out that I was witnessing to Mormons at the Stake Center and called me on the phone warning me that if I didn’t stop what I was doing, I was going to lose my family. I told her I was sorry that she felt that way but that I was not going to stop what Jesus had told me to do. I explained that if she and my family walked away from me, it would be on their own heads, not mine! Jesus addressed unbelieving family in Matthew 10:34-39 saying:
“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. 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 cross, 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.”
Jesus is not saying to “hate” your family in the strict sense of the word (Luke 14:26), but that your love and devotion needs to be to Him alone. Jesus is teaching that we must love Him above everyone and everything else, including our families. Jesus explained that because of Him there will be division in our families. We are reminded to love those who “hate” us or “despitefully use” us even if it comes from our own families (Matthew 5:43-44). Jesus also reminds believers of the hatred that will come from an unbelieving world. In John 15:18-19, Jesus said,
“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”
Not long after I refused to cater to my daughter’s threat to me to stop witnessing to Mormons or I would lose my family, I noticed that the tension between us was beginning to decrease. It’s as if she started respecting me for my willingness to stand for what I believe. Soon after I made that stand showing that I wasn’t going to compromise in my convictions, our relationship improved and she started calling me more often and our conversations were much more pleasant than before.
She even invited us to stay at their house when we were in town, which we have gladly accepted. It took a number of years, but my wife Laura and I now have a very good relationship with my LDS family. Last year, my daughter and son-in-law even came and visited me at the Manti park when I was there witnessing to Mormons at the Mormon Miracle Pageant. Don’t we serve an awesome God?!
To anyone who has come out of Mormonism and is facing family difficulties, my advice is to hold fast to Jesus. Don’t compromise your faith for your family. Love your family and pray for them, even when it seems hard! Don’t give up just because you don’t see God working in your family. The Lord Jesus promises to reward you:
“And he said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, there is no man who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive manifold more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.’ ” —Luke 18:29-30.
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