I had a great visit with my friend on the phone during lunch today. We talked for about 2 hours about the church. He is currently on the Stake High Council but sounds ready to pack it up and leave. His wife has been out of the church for a couple of years and is getting ready to send her resignation letter. He has talked to the stake president about what is going on with his wife and he advised my friend that if he stays faithful to the church then his marriage is doomed. He didn't exactly tell him to divorce his wife, but he made it quite clear that a faithful member couldn't have a successful marriage with an apostate. Read into that what you will. It doesn't sound like the type of counsel you'd expect from a family oriented church.
Anyway, he loves his wife and feels like he'd rather leave the church than lose his wife. He feels conflicted because because he's not sure about the church, but activity has become work and isn't doing anything for him. Sounds like a familiar theme for many people who have left the church. I explained to him how I struggled for 13 years and finally came to the realization that it was false. I encouraged him to ask the two key questions:
1) If the church isn't true, would you want to know?
2) What would it take to convince you that it is false?
Not surprisingly, he never answered question number 1. It's so interesting how deep the programming is and how consistently difficult Mormons find that question to answer. He danced all around it but never really came out and answered in the affirmative. Rather than push I explained that it was all about being honest with yourself and being willing to admit that you may have been wrong. Which is difficult for people like us that have been committed to the church for our whole lives.
It is interesting that Mormons are troubled by different things. For me it was the 1990 changes to the temple ceremony. For others it is polygamy. For others it is the Book of Abraham or the lack of evidence for the Book of Mormon. For him it is racism as evidenced by blacks not being allowed to have the priesthood until 1978. I mentioned to him that Joseph Smith had ordained a black man as a 70. He didn't now that. I explained that it was part of a pattern of lying by ommission by the church where the systematically suppress all the negative aspects of church history.
We also discussed the sexist aspects of the Mormon church and at how poorly its teachings serve the needs of the other half of the church. But that topic deserves its own topic.
Finally I found myself in the strange situation of telling him not to be hasty in leaving the church and to leave for the right reasons. It seems like if he leaves to smooth over things with his wife that it may lead to future resentment toward her and it will always leave the question in his mind of whether or not the church might really be true. I encouraged him to reason it out and look at the evidence and then decide. I don't think it would be wise for him to leave because it is the easy way out. That is why Mormons think people leave the church. In my experience I've never seen that as the main motivation.
Now I'm on the hook to send him some recommendations for where he can find out about what the church doesn't want him to know. So you can look forward to a post with my recommendations for web sites. I've already previously posted my recommendations for books.