Another one bites the dust. Julie Rowe has been excommunicated. For some reason, I continue to get hits on the key word Excommunicated. I ought to start a page on the subject, but Wikipedia already has one. I’m sure somebody will be updating it shortly. I read Julie’s book, A Greater Tomorrow, back in 2014, shortly after I reviewed a bunch of NDE books. Her book didn’t make my list because it came out after mine was completed.
I won’t comment on Julie’s status or journey. I don’t know her. Mary Ann did a good job of telling Julie’s story over on Wheat and Tares. I have met a few others on the list, such as Denver Snuffer and Rock Waterman. If somebody wants a more accurate record from which to update the Wikipedia site, I recommend Russell Anderson’s more recent list. Admittedly his index is more focused on the remnant movement, but it’s a good start.
Excommunication Not Desirable
Being excommunicated from the Mormon church is no great accomplishment. It’s not like people strive for membership in that list. But just about every one of the people who finds themselves in this category has something worth reading or learning about. I am fairly certain some of the upper management at LDS church headquarters take note of each of the cases that make the headlines, especially if it generates negative publicity.
If you’re investigating the Mormon church or have a desire to know more about the LDS faith, you would be wise to read both sides of the story, especially from those who spent a lifetime as active, believing, contributing members of the religion. There’s a reason why they leave, and don’t let anybody tell you it’s because they were great sinners. The truth is most of them love the Lord, and have been very hurt by the disciplinary action.
As Rock said, “I haven’t abandoned my religion. I embrace it.” I think the same can be said for most folks who have been stung by excommunication. It’s a stigma in Mormon culture. It’s affects your standing in the community and can be especially detrimental to happy and healthy family relationship when so many other family members are at least listed on the roles of the church, even if they either no longer believe or don’t attend.
You see, most LDS folks believe you are going to hell if you have been excommunicated. In fact, many of them will tell you it’s worse than hell – something called outer darkness, a special category reserved for sons of perdition. Yes, there are kind and compassionate members who continue to love those who have been excommunicated but for the most part, you are shunned. Conversations are awkward with the big elephant in the room.
Although I wasn’t excommunicated, I did resign back in 2014. Such a move is still relatively new in the Mormon church. I used to serve in local leadership positions. One of the requirements was to study the Handbook of Instructions. I remember being surprised when resignation was first quietly included in the book, and commented on it to the other members in the bishopric. We all agreed it was a good thing, long overdue.
However, it makes it difficult to associate socially with believing LDS folks. Don’t get me wrong. I love the members of my ward and stake. I still consider them like family. I sing with them, worship with them, partake of the sacrament with them and attend many of the social and cultural functions with my wife, who is still a very faithful member. It’s just that so much is focused on “follow the prophet.” One feels strong loyalty discomfort.
Follow the Prophet
I’m not a member. I don’t pay tithing to the LDS church. I obviously no longer attend the temple, although I did regularly for almost forty years. It’s tough to sit in testimony meeting and hear member after member get up and say, “I know the church is true. I know that <insert name of current LDS church president here> is a prophet of God. I know we will be safe and happy if we follow his teachings and do as he counsels.”
I don’t doubt their sincerity or their desire to be happy. And there is no doubt that the current LDS church president is a good man, who teaches good things, as do most of the leaders of the LDS church. It’s just that so much of the trust that should be placed in Jesus Christ has been misplaced in a mortal man, one who did not know Joseph Smith and has made no proclamations that would cause me to believe he speaks on behalf of Christ.
I took a few weeks recently to closely examine what I believe. I made a short, concise list of about forty relevant doctrines, principles and practices. I wanted to offer the list to kind and well-meaning folks who have asked how they could help me come back into the LDS faith. For the most part, there is a lot of commonality in what we believe. But as you get further down the list you will see there is not much chance I will ever rejoin.
I love the truth too much to deny what the Lord has revealed to me. It used to be that you could say LDS folks embraced all truth. That is no longer the case. There is a strict set of things you must believe to be LDS. Rather than go into detail here about the differences, I am contemplating a series of posts to compare what I believe with the official doctrines of the LDS church. Much of that official doctrine has changed even in my short lifetime.
Married To An Apostate
It’s been nearly five years since I resigned. I am still happy with my decision and feel it was the right thing to do. It has been a tough road, mainly because I so dearly love my wife, who has put up with me all these years. I know it has been hard on her. She did not bargain for this when she married me. She is a saint for sticking with me. There are a few difficult times with interpreting doctrine when we read the scriptures each night.
But for the most part, we still get along. We still try to support each other in our various pursuits. I am blessed and I am grateful. So much of happiness in this life comes from our close family relationships. I thank God every day for this good woman who prays with me, sings with me, worships with me and loves me. I’ll never understand what it means to be married to an apostate. Surely there are special blessings in heaven for her.