The Bible references included I have come to know in the last two and one half years (since leaving the LDS church).
I was raised in an unchurched home as were both of my parents.
When I was in my twenties, I was searching. I read the Book of Mormon. Many verses were identical to the King James Bible. After reading the Book of Mormon, I prayed about it, with a heart that was as sincere as I was capable of. The missionaries as well as the Book of Mormon itself instruct the reader to do this. I got a very strong physical/emotional reaction which I interpreted as confirmation from the Holy Ghost that it was the truth. see Proverbs 14:12)
I was baptized into the Mormon church (official name Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints) in 1978. For the next 6 years I was an active Mormon, unquestioning the teachings of the "brethren". I paid tithing (on my gross income), attended church every Sunday for 3 hours, kept a journal, did visiting teaching monthly (visiting and checking up on several of the women, assigned to me), served faithfully and to the best of my ability in many callings (including some I felt very unqualified for), gave public talks in worship service (called Sacrament meeting) and tried to convert my family, friends and co-workers. I fasted one day a month, abstained from tobacco, alcohol, tea and coffee (even decaf) and even gave up cola drinks until I once fell asleep at the wheel. From then on I would drink cola on long drives. I felt guilty because I didn't have 1-2 years food supply stockpiled in my basement and hadn't made much progress on tracing my genealogy. (See 1Tim 1:4, Titus 3:9)
As a Mormon, I believed that I could pray about anything and God would give this same confirmation if it was right. Mormons make all major life decisions (what job to take, who to marry, etc.) Based on this same measuring stick for truth. The formula I was taught is- 1. Study it out 2.Make a decision 3.Pray abut it and ask God (called Heavenly Father as God is not respectful enough) if it is right 4.If it is right you will get a good warm feeling, if it is wrong, confusion (called a stupor of thought). So they believe in personal revelation but here's the kicker....Mormons can receive revelation FOR OTHERS, too. Anyone that falls under their authority, ex. A man for his wife and children, a Bishop for anyone in his congregation, a Sunday school teacher for those in his class (in matters pertaining to the class), etc.
I received my "Patriarchal Blessing" and wept with joy for this great blessing of knowing God's plan for my individual life and for the love my "mother in heaven" had for me. (Isa 47:9, 12-15 & 1 Tim 4:1)
When they gave me a church job, it was a CALLING FROM GOD, revealed through the bishop. Bishops are also called by a higher church authority. Bishops receive no special training or seminary education, receive no compensation, and also hold a full time job while they serve in this capacity. It is quite a sacrifice for the man and his family.
When I had three children under the age of 5 and was barely able to get through the day, I was called to work in the nursery, for two hours every Sunday, during the two "adult only" meetings, Sunday school and Relief Society for women, Priesthood for men). I found it pretty hard to say no when I was "called to a position". It was like saying I knew more than God. And when I did refuse a calling, the Bishop quoted me a scripture that said God will not ask you to do anything without providing a way for you to do it. Talk about a guilt trip!
I met my husband at the Mormon church (he was also a convert) and after six years of Mormonism(1 year for him), we were married in the Mormon temple (the goal of all Mormon couples). I was told by the Bishop that if I did not marry in the temple, "for time and eternity", my children would be taken from me in the next life and given to someone worthy. Neither my parents nor my husband's were allowed to attend the wedding because they were not Mormons. They not only had to be Mormons, but "temple worthy Mormons". Not exactly "honoring thy father and thy mother" (also see Acts 17:24)
In the temple there are several ordinances that take place. They are all very strange. Some are quite frightening. Mormons will not talk about them. They claim they are not secret but sacred. In truth they are very secret and until 1990, all temple Mormons were required to take 3 blood oaths not to reveal what goes on there or "suffer my life to be taken" while pantomiming slitting one's own throat and other ways of dying). Also prior to 1990 the "endowment ceremony" in the temple portrayed Satan hiring a Christian pastor to deceive searching people. In 1990 these offensive parts were removed from the endowment ceremony. Now there are many Mormons (who first attended the temple after the 1990 changes) who don't believe they ever did these things.
When my husband and I arrived at the temple on our wedding day, we were immediately separated, each whisked away to separate locker rooms for the "washing and anointing" or "initiatory ordinance". I was given a big white garment, called a shield. It was open all the way up both sides and generously slit in front (kind of like a big poncho). I was told to take off every stitch of clothing and put this thing on. Then I entered a small cubicle (like a shower stall) an elderly woman temple worker ceremoniously touched each part of my body with wet fingertips, symbolically washing me clean from sin. Her hand kept darting under the poncho and touching briefly as she recited the blessing for each part of my body. Then I was told to enter another stall where the ritual was repeated, this time using oil. At the end of the anointing, the woman dressed me in holy garments (which are the secret Mormon underwear you may have heard rumors about). She put it on me, I was not allowed to dress myself. I was told that I must wear it day and night for the rest of my life. It has legs that reach the knees and little cap sleeves. There are also four little symbols stitched into them. (Mormons are allowed to remove them, for swimming, sports, bathing and marital relations).
I then reported to another small cubicle where I was given a new name. I was told to always remember it and never reveal it except one time in the endowment ceremony which was to come next (That was so my husband would know it so he could call me out of the grave at the resurrection. I was not allowed to know his name.) My name was Sussana- I remembered it by humming "Oh Susannah" (different spelling, same pronunciation)
Next came the endowment, where I took the oaths and learned the "sacred" handshakes (called tokens) and passwords. It lasted about an hour and a half. Men and women were seated on opposite sides of the room. Part of it was on film and part was presented by older men and women. As the ceremony unfolded, they paused three times to add various articles of clothing to the basic long white dress (white, pants, shirt and tie or jumpsuit for men) including a "robe" which is yards and yards of pleated sheer white fabric (goes on one shoulder), a plain white sash (called a girdle), a veil for women and a very strange white fabric hat for men. On top of all this goes a bright green satin apron, embroidered with fig leaves. At the end of this ceremony each person is tested on the passwords and handshakes (called signs and tokens) at the veil of the temple (which is miraculously intact, not torn from top to bottom.) Matthew 27:51) This test is spoken individually, mouth to ear in whispers. (Luke 12:2-3 and Ephesians 5:11)
After all of this ritual, my husband and I were finally together, and told to kneel and hold hands across an altar in a "sealing room". There were mirrors on both sides and our reflections went on forever "giving us a glimpse of eternity". The actual marriage ceremony only lasted about 10 minutes. All I could think of was, "I'm getting married in a green apron with FIG LEAVES on it!"
Anyway, on my wedding day my doubts were born and they remained with me for the next nine years. They never grew to an unbearable point but they were never resolved either. I grew to hate temple attendance. There was no one I could talk to about it as it is forbidden to discuss. On the few occasions when I hinted at my discomfort, members got a dreamy look and would say something like, "going to the temple is like spending the day in heaven". I grew to hate it so much, I got terrible headaches in anticipation of going. I had to take three extra strength Tylenol just to make myself walk through the door. Much more about the temple and all of the rituals is posted at : http://www.enteract.com/~marsh/index.htm
One day my husband, who had NEVER expressed any doubts about Mormonism, called me from work and said he had had it with trying to do all the church asked him to do. He was to be the main speaker for Sacrament meeting the next day. He was going through a very busy time at work, working about 65 hours a week. He said he wasn't going to church the next day.
I went with the children to fulfill my obligation to teach in the children's primary organization. I told the Branch President (equivalent of a Bishop in smaller congregations) that if my husband didn't come back in a month, I was leaving too. That was so weird. I was amazed at he words coming out of my mouth. After that first Sunday, I quit taking the kids to church, and only stayed until my primary obligation was fulfilled, leaving before sacrament meeting.
We felt guilty and confused. I called a friend who I had worked with 12 years earlier and told her we were thinking of leaving the Mormon church. I knew she was a little different but I didn't know she was a born-again Christian who had been praying for me for 12 years! (She had never attempted to witness to me). Two days later a package of literature arrived from a ministry to ex-Mormons, at her request. We decided to read it (something we had been counseled by "the brethren" never to do). The scales literally fell from our eyes. That morning we were deceived and that night we could see!
Having been delivered from my belief system and recognizing how deceptive my feelings could be, I was nearly desperate for some kind of measuring stick for truth. We began visiting churches and meeting with pastors. Some told me to believe the Bible. I wasn't about to take anyone's word for anything. The eighth article of faith in the Mormon church says..."We believe the bible to be the word of God AS FAR AS IT IS TRANSLATED CORRECTLY...."Of course this leaves the door open for any biblical principle that doesn't agree with Mormonism to be an error in translation.
It took me 7 hours with a Christian apologist and a personal study of the Bible and writings of John Ankerberg, Josh McDowell and others to overcome this mistrust of the Bible and realize that it is the measuring stick for truth. I studied old testament prophecies and their fulfillment until the evidence for the truth of the Bible became overwhelming. On April 29, 1994, I became a Christian. What a wonderful thrill it was to discover that salvation was by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9) and not something I had to earn by works and personal righteousness (Isaiah 64:6) As a Mormon, I was taught that we are saved by grace, after "we do all that we can do". (Of course I could always do a little more so I never had any assurance of salvation).
I lost almost all of my Mormon friends. I also learned a huge lesson in humility as I went from pridefully carrying a" temple recommend", a card in my wallet that "proved my worthiness", to acknowledging before family, neighbors and co-workers that I had been deceived, I was wrong. The things I had testified to them that I KNEW to be true were lies.
But we were truly blessed. Our parents, not being LDS, were accepting and supportive. The greatest blessing is that my husband and I were delivered TOGETHER. Many people lose children and spouse when they chose to leave. It was also a tremendous blessing that our three children were very young. We have had the opportunity to correct all the false teachings that they have been subjected to and they have all accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
A few things that I was taught to believe as an active Mormon (that you will probably not be told by your Mormon friends)
*God the father was not always God. He was born as a man on another earth, died, resurrected and exalted to the position of God, as were many gods before him and as will be "worthy Mormons who are married in the temple and obedient to many other laws and commandments. (1Cor 8:4-6, 2Sam7:22, Isa 46:9, Isa 43:10)
*We also have a Heavenly Mother (God's wife)
*Eternal life is not a free gift but is earned by obedience to a number of laws and commandments.
*All other churches are wrong and all of their creeds are an abomination in God's sight
*The test of truthfulness is how you feel about an issue (Proverbs 14:12)
*If a Mormon leader teaches you something that is false, you will not be accountable for it, the sin is on the leader's head (Isaiah 9:16)
*Joseph Smith has done more for you and all mankind than anyone except Jesus Christ.
*Non-Mormons belong (most unknowingly) to the church of the Devil, even those who profess Christianity.
*When a Mormon apostle or prophet says something that is accepted as true, he is directly inspired by God. When he says something that turns out to be false, he was just speaking for himself, as a man.
*Anything written by a former Mormon is false, deliberately twisted and misleading. Former Mormons have evil intentions.
*People leave the church because of serious moral sin. They know the church is true and are liars in league with Satan.
*Even if the Mormon church weren't true, it teaches good values and wonderful morals so what's the harm in it?
There are also many changes in the history of the Mormon church, of which most Mormons are totally unaware. They can be documented entirely in older Mormon writings (not "anti-Mormon literature")
*There have been thousands of changes in the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and covenants, including dates and words (not just spelling and punctuation errors as I was taught)
*The "testimony of three witnesses" in the Book of Mormon was edited after the death of the witnesses, "that we...have seen the plates..." originally said, "that we...have seen WITH OUR SPIRITUAL EYES the plates..."
*The name of the church has been changed twice and at one time was "The Church of Latter-day Saints" leaving out the name of Christ entirely. Mormons can read this in the last paragraph of the EXPLANATORY INTRODUCTION to their current Doctrine and Covenants. (This is especially significant because Mormons claim the "true church" must have the name of Jesus Christ in it's name.
The Mormon church is the fastest growing religion in the world. It has a full time missionary force of over 55,000. It has tripled in size to over 10 million members, since I joined in 1978. I can't help but feel that if more Christians were aware of it's teachings, it would not have such a tremendous growth rate. There were to my knowledge, at least 5 Christians praying for my husband and I. No one ever attempted to show me how unbiblical Mormonism is. If you do nothing else for a Mormon friend, pray!
This lengthy testimony has barely scratched the surface of my experience. Many things have been left out. It is my prayer that God may use my experience that others may not be deceived. I feel no anger or bitterness toward the Mormon people. I am burdened by a great love and concern for them.