Single post
Andersens

Our marriage has survived a crisis of faith.

(The following Exit Story was written together by Erik and Shaunalei Andersen)

I have joked with my wife the past few years that I must be a genetic freak since I was apparently born without a ‘feeling the spirit’ gene. I’m not sure what everybody else feels, but I never feel ‘it.’

I prayed. I fasted. I paid my tithing. I did my home teaching. I attended my meetings faithfully. We had family home evening, daily scripture study with the family, the works. On a number of occasions, I had repented for every sin I could remember. I had gone into the mountains to kneel down before the lord and weepingly offered to give up all my sins to know him. I had quoted to the lord all the scriptures promising he will answer his children. I had poured out my whole heart to God, pleading with every feeling in my heart that he would answer me. Again, and again, and again. The LDS church claims Joseph Smith was wrong to keep pestering the Lord to give Martin Harris the 116 lost pages of the Book of Mormon, yet we expect investigators and members to keep going to the Lord endlessly asking him to confirm the truth of the LDS church – rejecting every doubting thought or feeling while embracing every good feeling as the Spirit of the Lord manifesting the truth of the gospel. I finally decided I was defective and would never get an answer. I continued to hope and act as if I knew the church were true (accepting callings, giving priesthood blessings, etc.), even without the reassurance I’d longed for. Once married, I withheld my lack of spiritual answers from my wife.

My beloved wife, Shaunalei, felt the spirit all the time – she was the most obedient member of the LDS church I had ever known. She fell in love and married me, but came to sometimes lament the fact that I was not the spiritual giant she wished I would be. I didn’t do anything bad. But I lost enthusiasm for personal prayer, personal scripture study, and bearing testimony—though I would participate when she organized it. I suppose I was afraid she would reject me. But there finally came a time, back in the summer of 2006, when I finally lay in my wife’s arms weeping, explaining how God had never answered any of my prayers and THAT was why I was not and could not be the spiritual giant she wished for. It was frightening, but it was the truth, and it felt good to not be hiding things from her. She could tell I was sincere and wanted more than anything for me to have a sure testimony; to be able to be the man she wished I could be, to be able to testify to our children that I knew.

We vowed to begin a journey together to study about the church and discover what my problem was and why I was so broken that I couldn’t hear God talking to me. A month or so later, we were at Deseret Book picking up something or other, and my wife noticed a new biography on Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling, which she suggested we buy to help firm up my testimony. Several months later, while my wife and kids were out camping for a few days, and I was supposed to be doing some contract work, I finally picked up Rough Stone Rolling and began reading… I have a pretty good memory, and I had read many church books in the past, which made it disconcerting to hear many details of Joseph Smith’s life that were new and were different than I remembered. I began reading the footnotes carefully, and I drove over to the public library and picked up several of the books that were used as references. I began reading book after book, and taking notes. I soon felt like my mind was on fire. I couldn’t sleep. I would stop just long enough to eat. Within 24 hours of near constant study, I found I could no longer believe in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I felt a confusing rush of emotions: elevated, confused, angry, cheated, free, trapped, happy, dreadful, and just about every other feeling. I pulled out my cell phone and gave Shaunalei a call – “We need to talk” I said.

Even though I was persuaded that the church wasn’t what I thought it was, I still spent a lot of time digging and reading… I didn’t want to have been mistaken about the evidence. I didn’t think I was, but I needed to be absolutely sure with evidence from many different angles. So I searched out and read many of the very early first hand sources about church history, to be sure of what all the credible early sources, both friendly and antagonistic, had to say for what happened and how things got started. I found a hundred reasons why believing did not seem justified by the evidence. But maybe there was something I had missed? How much evidence did I need to be certain where the overwhelming preponderance of evidence was pointing?

But even as I dredged up all these other problems and read all these books and biographies and histories, etc. For me the most compelling evidence remained the original piece of evidence that had started me down this path – a story I first found in passing in Rough Stone Rolling, then read in greater detail by following the author’s footnotes—namely, the story of Zina and Henry Jacobs. This young couple had loved each other dearly, married, and born children together but were ultimately driven apart by Joseph Smith and Brigham Young as each successively demanded Zina’s hand in secret plural polyandrous marriage. Reading Henry’s pain-filled letters to Zina and his children, after Henry had been ordered to give Zina over entirely to Brigham — I just knew . . . God would not do that to people, or to families. My overwhelming sense of shock, horror, disgust, anger, and outrage, was my heart’s way of telling me everything I really needed to know. It took a couple of years for the facts stuffed into my brain to catch up with the certainty I already felt in my heart.

Back to our story… When Shaunalei got home, I was so excited to tell her everything I had learned. I somehow thought she would be excited to hear about all the things I’d discovered in my readings. She was in fact, NOT excited. She has horrified. And angry. Over the course of many painful discussions and several very painful months, I learned to shut up, to not try and push my thoughts on her. We found ways to compromise. We realized that even if if we got divorced over church differences, we’d still be taking turns with the kids on the weekends, where church issues would remain an ongoing battle–forcing the kids to always choose sides (mom vs dad), which we didn’t want. Since we really loved each other, and since we knew we would have to compromise anyway, we decided we might as well stay together and find our own middle road. There were several months where I wasn’t certain our marriage would survive. But I realized, since it wasn’t over yet, I would just try to be the best husband I could be—respectful of her feelings, loving, helpful—so that she wouldn’t feel the need to leave me. If she later chose to divorce me, I would at least be able to live without regret. Shaunalei soon realized that, while I was serious about not believing in the church anymore, I was still committed to our marriage. I was still a good person. And we both needed support.

Shaunalei, understandably, wished to have the entire family continue attending the LDS church. I, on the other hand, did not. I wanted to explore other denominations, to see if I could “feel God” there. This concerned her, since she continued to hope I would find my testimony of the LDS church before long. We didn’t want our kids (ages 10, 7, 5, and 3 at the time) to have to pick sides. So as a compromise, we decided I would continue to attend our LDS ward meetings with her and the children every other week, and she and the children would attend another denomination with me on the off weeks. During this time (18 months), we ended up having theological discussions nearly every Sunday afternoon after coming home from church meetings–discussing what was preached in the sermon or shared in Sunday School or sacrament meeting. We explored many, many issues of faith–what beliefs made sense, which did not; what we (individually) could believe, what we could not, etc. We had many conversations that would almost certainly not have happened if I had simply ditched church entirely. Rather than alienation and marital division–with the children having to choose sides–we became a more unified team, pulling together for the good of the family and out of love for each other, with our butts planted next to each other on a church pew every Sunday morning. We grew to love talking about the meaning of life, faith vs works, the possible nature of and evidences for/against God, the problem of pain, the problematic patterns we would see in the lives of charismatic prophets and cult leaders, the problematic process of picking the “right” prophet, the diversity of religion, the conditions of salvation, etc, etc. There was no pressure, because we were both just exploring these ideas together.

I knew my dear wife would never leave the LDS church: she had had too many witnesses and experiences for me to entertain hope. Yet in time, her first doubts surfaced. Following the government raid of the Yearning for Zion ranch in Texas, we both became fascinated by the news reports of the FLDS church, their leader Warren Jeffs, and the people who remained loyal despite his in-prison confessions denying that he was ever a prophet. Shaunalei devoured the book Escape by former FLDS member Carolyn Jessop–which describes many problems inherent in polygamy (jealousy, competition, neglect, power struggles among the sister wives, loss of individuality, etc.)–and eventually came to the conclusion that polygamy was not an inspired principle. Her conclusion that “Joseph Smith must have been wrong about polygamy” was her first step in her own journey away from a sure testimony of the church. Shaunalei eventually began to ask questions, and study on her own, and found serious problems (in particular the evolving priesthood restoration story) that began to erode her testimony.

But, given all her earlier spiritual witnesses, she had to understand what her former spiritual witnesses were, and if Heavenly Father was okay with her new perspective on life and faith before she was willing to walk away from solemn baptismal and temple covenants. She prayed, asked for guidance, and took note of the many and varying gentle reassurances, epiphanies, and revelations that came to her — and then compared these with her earlier “witnesses.” She came to conclude that the revelatory process the church claims as evidence of our sure Knowledge of Truth, was not evidence at all—but rather, exploration, meaning-making, and peace-finding. She began to see problems in the Prophet model of revelation, where a prophet tells church members what God wants them to know, and where it is each church member’s duty to obey. This approach makes people subject to charismatic or manipulative or delusional personalities (such as Warren Jeffs), and makes people dependent on other people’s assurance that they are true spokesmen for the Divine.

Two long years after my own loss of faith, my dear wife Shaunalei was ready to leave the church. She had come to fully doubt the validity and importance of the church, and the truthfulness of its foundational claims. We resigned from the church together, with our whole family intact, on July 4, 2009.

We are the Andersen family, and we are Ex Mormons.

Recommended resources and links:

Letter to the Editor by Shaunalei in the local newspaper
Scanned copy of an Anonymous letter mailed to the Andersen’s by unwelcoming members of the church

Websites:

Priesthood Restoration discrepancies article
Shaunalei’s Blog
Erik’s Blog
MormonThink.com
New Order Mormon forum
Postmormon.org
earlychristianwritings.com

Books:

Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Lyman Bushman
Insider’s View of Mormon Origins by Grant Palmer
In Sacred Loneliness by Todd Compton
“An Address to All Believers in Christ” by David Whitmer
“Sidney Rigdon: Creating the Book of Mormon” by Craig Criddle
Losing a Lost Tribe by Simon G. Southerton
By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus by Charles M. Larson (Active LDS can receive a free copy of this book here)
Escape by ex-FLDS Carolyn Jessop
Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
A Mormon Mother by Annie Clark Tanner
An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton (especially the 1940-1944 entries)
Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialogue (Book 1) by Neale Donald Walsch
Prophetic Charisma: The Psychology of Revolutionary Religious Personalities by Len Oakes
God Without Religion: Questioning Centuries of Accepted Truths by Sankara Saranam
Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas by Elaine Pagels
The Bile Unearthed by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman
Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

Videos:

Video “Inside a Cult” by National Geographic
Video “Atheism: A History of God”

Share Button
Adam
June 4th, 2011 at 11:20 pm

Such a nice story. You will inspire many. I bet you felt a great relief upon leaving.

Brad
August 18th, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your story! It gives me great hope that my wife and I will ne able to work out my loss of faith. You both look so sincerely happy!

Dalton
July 26th, 2015 at 11:38 pm

It’s great to find somonee so on the ball

June 4th, 2011 at 11:25 pm

Incredible story.

This is going to change so many people’s lives. :)

Natalie
June 5th, 2011 at 1:13 am

You are amazing. I loved this video so much, your message is so beautiful. I am so happy for you.

Amy
June 5th, 2011 at 2:16 am

I’ve also received my share of hate mail in response to letters I’ve written to the editor. Not one has had a signature including a first and last name. I guess these cowards want to be able to say what they have to say without standing behind it or hearing any sort of response. It’s sad. It says so much about who they are and how fearful they are that anybody will tell them anything they don’t want to hear. Truly small and pathetic people.

PostMomama
June 5th, 2011 at 11:20 am

EXCELLENT! This is one of my favorites! What a story….

jean
June 5th, 2011 at 11:58 am

Dear Anderson family, there is a great lesson of love, tolerance and forgiveness in this story for all people. I know how painful my own exit was and I know I didn’t make it easy on my husband. I felt right along with you when you told of how hard you tried and how devastated you were when you discovered lies. I know the feeling of wanting to share these new ‘revelations’ with your best friend and partner. I’m proud of you both for realizing that love is what brought you together and love would keep you together through thick and thin.

I was fortunate that my member husband could empathize with the emotional pain that I experienced. We worked hard on our relationship and continue to do so today. I don’t really care what church he attends; all I needed was validation that I was not doing something wicked; that I had the right to my own beliefs just as he does. Took us a while to work that one through, but we did it because love is far more important than which church you attend.

Thank you for sharing your story.

Shaunalei
June 5th, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Thanks, everyone, for your kind words! I love your story, too, Jean. Your husband is indeed, a saint. So happy for both of you. For those who are interested in our emerging theology, Erik considers himself a hopeful agnostic whereas I am happily enjoying unitarian universalism. Let’s keep sharing the message–Good marriages can survive a faith transition!

Victoria
April 24th, 2016 at 1:15 pm

I am so so grateful that you and your husband had the courage to make this video. How wonderful. Thank you. I am so hopeful and scared all at the same time. I didn’t ever want to be asking the questions my (kind, bishopric serving husband) is asking. I am embarrassed to admit that I was so proud when he was called and feel so ashamed that he now feels he has to leave. ASHAMED… Ha! Of a kind, loving beautiful man. The road ahead of me is scary as hell, but your video has helped and I thank you xxx

Katelyn
June 5th, 2011 at 1:46 pm

This is so much like my own story. My husband handled it so perfectly and after almost 14 years of marriage, we are finally out together. It is a beautiful thing to feel so free and let our relationship develop as it was meant to. Congratulations to your beautiful family.

Heather
June 5th, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Shaunalei and Erik, thanks for sharing your story! It was beautiful! I love you guys! Hugs!

Kerry
June 5th, 2011 at 3:34 pm

A very nice ending! I went through several of the same things you all have. You will be amazed how much support there is for you all. Welcome to your new journey.

Donna Carlson
June 5th, 2011 at 4:25 pm

What an incredible example of love and compromise in putting your family first!
My husband and I also aren’t on the same page concerning issues half the time, but the thing I like is that we both accept each others differing ideas and even joke about it. I’m more spiritually oriented than him and also question more than him. I couldn’t have questioned before or accepted and embraced our differences because I was too immersed in having both of us conform to what the church taught. Your story is uplifting and inspiring. Thanks!

Greg
June 5th, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Shaunalei and Erik, thank you for your story. I find myself in nearly the exact same situation. Unfortunately, we are just at the beginning of our new path, and to be honest I’m sacred to death that it may one day cost me my family. Your story gives me hope that someday, somehow my wife will open her mind to the truth.

Catherine
June 5th, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Ohmygoodness!!! I had to hold myself back from speeding through to the end. I kept thinking “Please let her be open to considering new things. Please let her be open to considering new things…” Wowee… almost the whole 8 minutes had me on the edge of my seat! Will she? Won’t she? What a happy ending for your whole family. I’m so glad for you all. It’s a great big wonderful world out there, isn’t it?

I’m so sorry you had to receive those UNchristlike letters. I have found in my life that old friends from church have an easier time with non-members who have never joined than non-members who have chosen to leave.

Thanks for sharing your uplifting story.

Michelle
June 5th, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Shaunalei, your “letter to the editor” is so awesome. You exemplify a strong woman with the integrity it takes to keep your family together, and that you did. Kudos to you and hubby for putting your family and relationship right up there where it belongs. At the #1 spot. Kudos to you for kicking the interference out of the equation. Anything that competes for that spot should be abandoned. You’ve successfully done what so many fear to do. You’ve taken the power back as a family. Thank you for not choosing the church over your dear husband. Congratulations to the both of you.

David
June 5th, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Thanks a lot for sharing your story guys. The experience my wife and I had was very similar. There were definitely some tough times, but we are now on the same page and happier than ever. There are plenty of other couples at different stages of the same journey. I hope this video is able to reach some of them. Thanks again.

Tom
June 5th, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Thank you for you story. I can understand it oh so well.

Sophia
June 5th, 2011 at 10:08 pm

We love you! It was GREAT to see your story here! xxoo

Mary Ann
June 5th, 2011 at 11:48 pm

I loved your video, it’s just great to see that you both were able to accept each other for who you are, even while going through all the changes on your spiritual journeys. You have an amazing family, and I’m so glad for you that your crisis of faith only made your family stronger.

June 6th, 2011 at 1:57 am

Wonderful video. I love to see relationships overcoming the obstacles that the church strategically has in place for couples who fall out of the cookie-cutter blindly obedient member roles. The irony is that the church claims to be all about “family first.”

On another note, I would be interested to read a summary about the evolving priesthood restoration story.

Erik
June 6th, 2011 at 1:56 pm

The way in which the priesthood restoration story evolved is discussed in several places, such as the book The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, pages 14-38, and also in the book An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins, chapter 7.

For the best online resource I am aware of, the MormonThink website has an excellent article that covers this issue in detail.
http://www.mormonthink.com/priesthood.htm

In short, the priesthood restoration is what the LDS church claims makes it unique — the only church authorized to speak for God and perform valid ordinances. Unfortunately, the accounts of the priesthood restoration were written years after the fact, inserted without comment into ‘revelations’ that had been already widely published. There is strong evidence to suggest the priesthood restoration was fabricated well after the LDS church was established. In the earliest years of the LDS church, nobody spoke of or wrote about such a thing. Accounts of angelic ordinations from John the Baptist and Peter, James, and John are in none of the journals, diaries, letters, or printed matter until the mid-1830s. When David Whitmer was asked “Were you present when Joseph Smith received the revelation commanding him and Oliver Cowdery to ordain each other to the Melchizedek Priesthood?” Whitmer replied: “No I was not, neither did I ever hear of such a thing as an angel ordaining them until I got into Ohio about the year 1834, or later … [and regarding the Aaronic Priesthood,] I never heard that an angel had ordained Joseph and Oliver to the Aaronic priesthood until the year 1834, 1835, or 1836, in Ohio”.

Julie
June 6th, 2011 at 8:28 am

You guys look like you are living the real plan of happiness. : )
You look great!
And what an eloquent depiction of your exit process.
Congratulations on your escape!
Thanks for doing this.
My best to you.

LDS Truthseeker
June 6th, 2011 at 11:12 am

Nice story guys. You took a very logical and methodical way of arriving that the church isn’t what it claims to be. Bravo.

June 6th, 2011 at 1:50 pm

One of my LDS neighbors wrote a kind note to me yesterday expressing her sadness that we had received such a cruel anonymous letter. She wanted me to know that, while her conclusions about the church were different than mine, she harbored no hard feelings toward me or my family and cherished instead memories of my kind support during her husband’s prolonged illness. I was so grateful for her note, and for her willingness to hear/watch our story.

Not only can good marriages survive a crisis of faith, good friendships can too! Compassion, kindness, relationships . . . they matter.

June 7th, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Erik and Shaunalei,
Thank you. Thank you.
Your story wrings my eyes for joy. I wish that everyone could do it the way you did. Everyone.
Peace,
Shane

Shaunalei
June 8th, 2011 at 12:43 am

Thank you, everyone, for your kind words of support and praise. We loved sharing our story with you.

Our praises go to Dan the Cameraman for his time, talents, and passion. His ability to distil our ramblings into such a beautiful piece is nothing short of a gift!!!

Please notice that we’ve added a link to the Priesthood Restoration discrepancies article, given that some people have expressed interest in that issue.

Lots of other great resources to follow up on, too. Don’t miss the online National Geographic documentary “Inside a Cult” (near the bottom of the list) which features interviews with charismatic prophet Wayne Bent/Michael Travesser. It’s a classic–showing that when a guru demands huge sacrifices of his followers, he obtains power over their minds, hearts, and consciences. So reminiscent of Joseph Smith and his grooming of women, some already married and some still in their teens.

John
July 10th, 2011 at 10:31 am

Interesting video. The only problem I have is Erik said that he felt that he would lose his wife, kids, and his kids would be taught that he was a bad person. And he was willing to let that happen! That sounds a bit selfish to me. There has to be a better way to compromise and get around it than seriously damage the lives of your spouse and offspring because of your own doubts.

Shawn
July 12th, 2011 at 8:34 am

A very beautiful story. Congratulations to your entire family. I’m delighted to hear that Shaunalei is finding comfort in U-U and that Erik remains hopeful. I think “hopeful agnostic” could describe my own position. May you continue to discover the joys and wonder of life and one another!

July 16th, 2011 at 12:38 pm

This was stunning and made me cry. Bless and thank you both for this. What a gift.

James
August 13th, 2011 at 1:17 am

such an uplifting story.

Ricardo
August 26th, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Erik and Shaunalei,

Thank you for sharing your story. It is amazing and I think I have watched it over 10 times already. It really gives me hope since I am going exactly through the same thing. I was a convert and married in the temple, my wife has been a lifelong member with pioneer heritage.
I spent the last 2 months wondering all the questions and doubts about faith and sharing it with my wife. She tried her best to give me support and hopefully strngthen my “testimony”. The doubts didn’t disappear but kept ringing louder in my head.
Then I started reading Rough Stone Rolling, after getting the approval from my wife, last week and my jaw just dropped thanks to all the information included there. Joseph Smith seemed more like a scam artist, con man, and pervert than a prophet.
My faith started to vanish but I prayed with an open heart and I felt good about leaving, which I just started doing and since this last Monday, when I revealed to the world the fact that i was done with the mormon church. My faith in the lds church is all but gone but amazingly my love for God and the Bible has increased.
My wife’s world is crumbling and we are going through a hard time but I watch your video and it gives me so much happiness and peace to know that hopefully we can someday become like you guys. She has spent every day crying and feeling lonely and hopeless while I have bittersweet feelings. I feel happy because I stood for my integrity but I also want to make her happy as a husband.
I feel guilty too because she is hurting but I’m trying to imitate you Erik and be the best man I can be for her. I don’t really know what to expect every day and it is a struggle but I just wanted to thank you for this from my heart.

Best wishes to both of you.

Lyndsay
December 16th, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Ricardo I pray that you will someday find your voice and that your wife will have an open mind and heart to hear you. Your feelings about the church are valid and you shouldnt ignore them. I suggest you find some non denominational churches in your area and check them out. Hear what they have to say about the true character of God and the Bible and see if your feelings about the church remain the same. My husband is an exmormon and he is so happy and fulfilled now.

Adriana
July 26th, 2015 at 9:55 am

Fascinating! Nonconfrontational and passive-aggressive as it is, that’s a big deal when abotulse deference and submission is the standard.I would be even more surprised if the “do you support the prophet or not?” card was not raised. After all, this is young up-and-coming leadership Mormons at center of Mormonism bucking Mormon authority. The future “suits” — middle class professionals who will be the bishops, and whose M.R.S.-degree-endowed wives will be R.S. presidents. Huge deal, though it will probably be contained and squashed in that oh-so-Mormon way to which Johnny alludes.An interesting side-note is that it is not so obvious that Mormons should oppose torture. After all, it was now-federal-judge Brother Jay Bybee who wrote one of the infamous torture memorandums and who was afterward celebrated by Meridian Magazine as a protector of law and the constitution. (And, it should be noted, his federal judgeship came as a result of it, shortly afterward.)You know what I mean — the memo with the argument that only physical pain that approximates actual death or organ failure can constitute “torture,” therefore making the definition of torture so extreme as to render it into irrelevance.No, the Mormon-approved stand on torture is quite in line with Cheney’s.

Bill G.
October 9th, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Very interesting story. I started attending a Mormon church 6 months ago. I like it for many reasons, but don’t agree with ALL their doctrine and would never become a Mormon. I feel free to tell the members that and they accept it with a good attitude.
ANY church that says “we are the one true church” proves to me they are not.
God is bigger than any and all churches. Glad to hear you worked it out between you.
Thanks for giving us an inspirational account.

But really……why is it so important that people believe exactly like each other ??!!
It’s amazing that at one time, the “one true” Catholic church had the power to kill people because they didn’t believe the established doctrines. That’s as crazy as people breaking up because they don’t believe exactly alike. I have to admit, that I couldn’t be married to an atheist, but why is it so important for people to have others believe exactly like they do…..and risk a marriage, their kids happiness, etc….. all over something that can’t actually be proven 100 percent ??? In my opinion you did the right thing for you, your family and your spiritual progress……and……who knows……maybe God breathed a sigh of relief.

John
October 18th, 2011 at 3:01 am

I’m a husband, father of 5, active in the church but very, very skeptical. Unfortunately, I don’t have the willpower or the emotional strength to tell my family that I have such difficulty believing. I feel like a hypocrite. Wish I had the strength to just say no to the church, but I’m afraid of losing everything. Your story is inspirational, but I’m trapped. I don’t know how to get out, and sometimes I’m not even certain that I want out. It’s a strange mental state to be in…so confusing, so frustrating.

October 22nd, 2011 at 12:17 pm

John, Erik was only able to open up and share his true feelings/doubts with me when he felt our marriage was strong enough–i.e. when he could see that I loved HIM and not just my IDEAL IMAGE of him. Even then, it was a hard time for us when he confessed his loss of testimony. I was NOT happy. Thank goodness he was patient with me!!

My heart goes out to you who find yourselves caught in that silent middle place of doubting-but-conforming. If and when the time comes to speak your truth, there are two online forums I can recommend: “New Order Mormon” for you; “Faces East” for your spouse.

Hugs.
Shaunalei

Devendra
July 27th, 2015 at 7:13 pm

Hey Matt!!!I suppose the ionncsistency you’re talking about is the same one Gluby mentions…Hey Gluby!!!That’s horrible. I guess I meant that opposition to torture should be a non-brainer (but isn’t always), and that I’m not surprised by this because in every group there will be some people who stand up and say something (even when the majority just go along with what they’re told).

October 22nd, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Another thought. In terms of finding a way to speak your truth, perhaps a better place to start than declaring “I’ve lost my testimony” (cold-turkey style) would be making general observations/questions about the Plan of Salvation. Here are some possibilities:

* Why would God send his children through a veil of forgetfulness and then proceed to expect them to “get everything right” in terms of faith and works before being able to return to him? Why would he set up such conditions for the “test of faith”? Is it a fair test?

* Why would god even choose to test our faith? Why not just test our compliance to His will after His personal appearance to each of us to explain what was true and what He wanted us to do? Wouldn’t that be the only fair test?

* Why would God expect us to look to self-proclaimed prophets as authorities on His will? Relying on such a process leaves us VERY vulnerable to charismatic, narcissistic sociopaths who would love nothing more than to have a following and run our lives for us. Are we really equipped to discern which religious “authorities” are inspired and which are just delusional, corrupt, or well-intended-but-wrong? Are the writings of self-proclaimed prophets any more reliable than their statements/pronouncements? How do we know which holy writ is indeed holy?

* If our coming to freely accept “right belief” were important to God, wouldn’t He intervene more in the personal lives of his billions of children on earth to help them leave false tradition and embrace His ultimate “truth” before they died? In the history of the world, hasn’t the spread of religion happened more by threat of damnation, high birth rates within (and subsequent loyalty to) an existing religious heritage, and/or “the sword” (convert or die), rather than by God personally revealing a new path to people? Even if God chose to work through a “chosen” faith’s proselytizing efforts, how effective has it been for bringing His billions of beloved children to “right belief” and consensual conversion?

*Is God going to judge us for “incorrect belief”? If not, what matters to Him? If “correct belief” during mortality is not necessary for salvation, why would there be any urgency at all for missionary work?

* What, if anything, is man’s universal duty to God while here on earth–regardless of the faith tradition he/she is born into? What does He whisper to individual hearts? Is it consistent? What has He whispered to you? Most people of faith talk of spiritual experiences with God/Spirit–but the “messages” they receive are not always universal? Why is that? Why doesn’t God reveal Himself consistently to people who pray sincerely to know Him?

Many more such discussions could develop along those lines.

Gilly S.
November 16th, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Dear Shaunalei (beautiful name!) and Erik,

I’ve never been a Mormon, and my interest is solely from a human rights point of view (in that I have a passionate dislike of organisations which suppress and condemn the moral free agency of others). I came upon your video, and for the first time felt I had to comment.

You are so, so inspiring. I was close to crying, hearing your story, and I hope many others hear of it in future. I know you meantioned on your blog (Shaunalei, I think) that there’s a whole book in your experiences, and I genuinely hope you write it because I think it would be an amazing story. The fact that you both managed to humble yourselves before your marriage, always putting each other first and fighting to make it work, is such an inspiration. If only all relationships were that way. :-)

I realise this is rambling – sorry! – but I just wanted to say that I appreciate your willingness to tell your story in such an open way. I wish you and your beautiful family many, many long years of happiness, and hope that the two of you only grow closer with time.

Much love,

A Toddler’s Mother In Scotland.

Shaunalei
November 22nd, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Thank you for commenting, Gilly! Made my day to hear your kind words and positive response to our story. Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season with your toddlers, friends, and family.
Shaunalei

Shaunalei
November 22nd, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Toddler. Just realized my mistake. :-)

Kay
November 24th, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Hi Shaunalei and Erik,
I just wanted to thank you for making the video. Our marriage survived a similar crisis and I could identify with so much of your experience, except we were Jehovah’s Witnesses.

December 11th, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Fascinating, Kay. So happy you transcended the dogma to keep intact the reality of love.

Al
December 11th, 2011 at 7:20 pm

My wife and some of my kids would just say that I was God’s problem. That was their way of coping when I left the church 25 years ago. I’m glad you worked it out.

December 29th, 2011 at 2:43 pm

You realize therefore significantly with regards to this subject, made me personally imagine it from numerous numerous angles. Its like women and men don’t seem to be interested unless it is something to do with Girl gaga! Your individual stuffs outstanding. At all times handle it up!

March 16th, 2012 at 9:10 pm

For those whose marriage has survived a crisis of faith, what made the difference for you? How did your marriage survive?

Drew Rohweder
March 25th, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Dears,you are making a super job! I’m facilitating the worldsocialforum video hub .ciao from Italypaco

Nick
July 29th, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Not only does your story show how people can overcome their religious pain, but more importantly, it’s a testament to a strong, loving marriage. Thank you so much for sharing!

July 29th, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Our pleasure, Nick! Thank you for taking the time to share your comments.

Tim
October 20th, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Great story and thanks for sharing. It will give many people hope. Our family went through much the same experience. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. We have been out as a family almost four years and I am greatful every day that we came out intact. If our marriage could survive this, we can deal with anything!

Best wishes

Tim

November 5th, 2012 at 7:21 pm

So happy for you, Tim! Thanks for commenting.

jen
May 7th, 2014 at 8:34 am

I would really like more info on the priesthood restoration inconsistencies. I’ve tried to research it but mostly lds explanations are popping up and I can’t find a straight answer :(

Shaunalei
July 1st, 2014 at 10:22 am

Hi, Jen. Here is a link to an article at mormonthink.com which covers a lot of the priesthood restoration issues:

http://mormonthink.com/priesthood.htm

Donny
November 29th, 2014 at 12:31 am

What church do you attend? I live down the road in Payson and want to attend a Unitarian church to check it out? Thanks!!

Shaunalei
April 16th, 2015 at 5:38 pm

Hi, Donny. Erik and I attend the Utah Valley Unitarian Universalist fellowship in Springville. We only have 2 more services before a summer recess, but you can always learn more via email: info@uvuu.org

We’d love to meet you!

Joaquin Shalhoub
February 15th, 2015 at 8:20 pm

Join the best Sportbike Group in Central Florida!

http://www.meetup.com/cfl-sportbike-riders/

NoName
April 2nd, 2015 at 10:06 am

Thanks so much for sharing. I am a husband, and father, and am fully aware of the church as a man-made institution. I am also painfully aware of the devotion my wife has to the church (one thing that once resonated with me as I made temple covenants with her during our sealing) she has pretty much found out through my change in attitude toward the church over the years, and recent disinterest in attending. I’m petrified more about losing her as she is so devout and firm in her beliefs. I want so desperately for us to remain together as she is a wonderful mother, spouse, and human being, yet I am afraid of the ever so real to her belief that I am departing from the way of truth and righteousness.

I want to be able to explain to her how I came to know the church was fallible, and that I still cherish her and love her more. I want to fight for us, yet know she may eventually decide to leave me rather than face the facts about Mormonism.

Shaunalei
September 29th, 2015 at 12:07 am

Hello, NoName.

Your fears are valid, but I hope you can find peace of mind in knowing that being your best self is the best you can do. That said, I wonder how your wife would respond to the idea, “A loving Father in Heaven wouldn’t give up on me. Do you honestly think he would want you to give up on me? I am open to the truth. I will embrace it whenever it reveals itself. What more would a God of benevolence ask of me?”

John Pratt
May 30th, 2016 at 5:15 pm

Dear Erik and Shaunalei,

Thank you so much for your story and your video. I can’t express how much it gives me something to relate to. I wish to get to know and meet in person other ex-Mormons, and your support group you mentioned at the conference sounds interesting, except that we live in Manti, Utah. Our story is kind of convoluted and different, but I’ll post below what i sent this morning to exMormon.org (though very incomplete as our “story”), contemplating an ex-Mormon video. BTW, it was hilarious hearing both of you read comments from your Youtube video. Check me/us out if you wish, my business web site is: http://www.prattharps.com, and my cell phone is (435) 340-0525. We are also in the Manti Phone book. It has only hit me lately how much I struggle with a new no-LDS self identity and world view. To see others so struggling in these videos is really interesting. I hope he hasn’t stopped making them. I want to see more, and also possibly be in one. Good luck to you. Sincerely, John

This is what I sent to exMormon.org:

I might possibly be interested in being in a video.
Our story, briefly. I am now nearly 63 years old. I left the LDS Church 18 years ago and joined what most would call a “Fundamentalist” LDS Church. I didn’t really feel at all at the time that I had left my religion of birth, but rather that I was then able to more fully believe and practice what my birth religion was (theoretically) supposed to be. This was at a considerable sacrifice and emotional trauma, but not quite in the same way that some people coming straight out of Mormonism have experienced that I see in your videos, though I did feel considerable contempt and outrage at the time towards the LDS Church (still do to some degree) for having lied and hidden all kinds of doctrinal and historical things from the members.
I retired from the Air Force at that time (1998), and my then marriage of 20 years did not survive, and we went through a divorce of considerable animosity, though my first marriage was a very, very difficult and unfulfilling one anyway. I married again right away to a woman I met (after my first wife and I had called it quits) in my new Church. I gave my new religious belief and investment my whole heart and soul, and all my effort and energy. I studied and studied, and I wrote books. I also taught the “Restored Gospel” in this new venue far more than in my previous LDS experience and mission. I also married a second wife about six years after arriving.
Ultimately, however, and most especially after our leader passed away in 2013, with his blood kin taking over the reins, the church seemed to dead end, and the leadership at the time had a conduct that for me was increasingly unacceptable and abusive, not to mention nepotistic, manipulative, thoughtless towards others, and just plain self-serving. Most of the non-leadership members then settled back into a “don’t rock the boat” mentality (not my character), and became pretty much like the LDS “sheeple” mentality, though it pains me to say so, because I’ve invested so much with most of them, and I care for them a lot.
In short, the fruits simply were not there, and with such conduct, I could never see how the stated goal of the Restoration, “Zion,” could ever be brought about under such circumstances. It was so painful to consider leaving, and yet so painful to stay in such an unsatisfying situation.
But I decided to leave finally, a most free and liberating choice, and had both my wives patiently waiting for me to come to that decision. It took a lot of courage, just as it did back in 1998 to leave the LDS Church in the first place. We saw no reason to break up our family, and so both are still with me. I have been with the first now almost 18 years, and the other, almost 12. We do not currently base the viability of our domestic relations on any religious claim or principle, simply on our love and desires to continue to be together, nor do we invoke the strict patriarchal marriage relationship principles that are preached in the “Fullness of the Gospel,” though which were not really practiced very stringently at all in our church. (We were nothing at all like the abusive FLDS in that respect, nor did we arrange marriages, in fact, marriages were mostly but not entirely, ladies choice.)
But now, I personally identify much more with being “Ex-Mormon” rather than being ex- anything else, and I can relate very much to the struggle many ex-Mormons are going through regarding self-identity, and how to now view the world. It is a struggle now that I didn’t have 18 years ago, as I didn’t consider myself at the time abandoning my “religion” of birth at all, just the “apostate” LDS Church.
Currently, we all retain I feel a strong spiritual connection and desire, but have no desire to pursue this through any kind of organized religion or denominationalism, which I now feel hampers both spiritual initiative, responsibility, as well as agency. I have become very sensitive to anything resembling a fear-based religious system (sorry, “Evangelicals”), which destroys agency and true initiative. But I have no desire to push doctrine or my beliefs on anyone any more (now there’s a switch), though I am willing to answer peoples’ questions, very similar as to what the Sullivans have described.
I recognize that all people both in and out of religion are on their own path, and will work through the events of their lives as their hearts direct them, and ultimately I have confidence in this process. My past views on this in my immediate former Church were pretty much identical as in the LDS Church, you know, “Share the Gospel, wherever possible.”
I don’t reject anything correct or worthwhile the may have existed in the LDS church, but currently I have no personal patience for the LDS in general at all, but also particularly when our LDS neighbors who so kindly fed our teenagers a few months ago when we were away on a trip, had occasion for our teenagers to see the LDS missionaries while we were gone. I interrupted the local LDS bishop the next morning (Sunday) in his bishopric meeting with a cell phone call with a piece of my mind. He responded most sheepishly. Yes, I have a reputation locally. Coincidentally, tt was then shortly after that the LDS came out with their announcement about how children of gay people as well as CHILDREN OF POLYGAMISTS were not to be taught by missionaries. While the policy is vile, it was just as well for me.
This brief account is of course inexcusably incomplete. I’m not sure yet if one or both of my wives would like to do a video, but if our particular circumstances or story in your estimation might be worthwhile, let me know, and we will consider it. I hope that in the ex-Mormon community, which I personally would like to start to get to know better, there will not be any unkind feelings or apprehension about our family circumstances, if ex-Mormons can have kind feelings and acceptance for gay people (my one wife’s son is gay), then I hope that they can likewise have acceptance and kind feelings for people such as us. Actually, I don’t know what term to use any more to refer to us. The terms “polygamous” and “plural marriage” suddenly now seem inappropriate. We just are who we are.
At any rate, these “ex-Mormon” videos really resonate with me, as I can share so many of their feelings and experiences. I did lose a wife over leaving the LDS Church. Even though the marriage was bad, it was still very, very painful. On the other hand, I have had a very opposite kind of experience in that respect leaving our so-called “Fundamentalist” church. Both ladies were in perfect agreement about leaving, without an ounce of wavering or disagreement between any of is in the decision. (But that doesn’t mean that having two companions doesn’t have its “moments.’) We were very impressed with both the Andersen’s video (and their panel discussion at the conference), as well as the Sullivan’s presentation at one of the conferences. Sincerely,

John Pratt

NBA
May 31st, 2016 at 6:03 pm

Hello, awesome websites you have here
NBA http://www.sghuadian.com/comment/html/index.php?page=1&id=116862

Shinken Katana japan
June 5th, 2016 at 3:35 pm

Perfect! Plus amazingly fast shipping. Thanks!
Shinken Katana japan http://www.dhgate.com/store/product/handmade-japanese-samurai-functional-sword/382016637.html

1095 Steel Samurai Sword
June 5th, 2016 at 3:35 pm

LEAVE A COMMENT

theme by teslathemes