As I surveyed people who have chosen to embark on a journey out of Mormonism into a relationship with a new church, several obstacles on that journey came to light. One set of obstacles had to do with the difficulty of moving from one religious and cultural identity to another.
One aspect of this is the loss of certainty many transitioning Latter-day Saints experience. Respondents suggested to me that the LDS Church had answers for most everything. There were few mysteries or ambiguities – at least in their experience. One person put it like this:
“I have a friend who is in the process of leaving Mormonism……in the beginning he said to me that he felt as if a hole had opened up under him and he was falling down this deep hole trying for all he was worth to claw and hang on to the sides. He likened the hole opening up to the holes he was finding in Mormon doctrine and how it felt to have it crumble beneath him and his clinging and clawing trying to hang on to the side of the hole were his efforts to hang on to any shred of Mormonism that might be true. Thankfully, he finally let go and free fell right into the arms of Jesus.”
Christians in traditional churches have deep certainty about many essential truths. But where transitioning Mormons are challenged is in the “gray areas” of doctrine and lifestyle. These are areas which the Bible does not explicitly define, and about which Bible believing Christians have disagreed over the centuries.
Related to this, former LDS are suddenly confronted with an incredible variety of options. Instead of one true church, they now have 31 denominational flavors, plus dozens of parachurch organizations and missions. Instead of one authoritative voice, they are now exposed to dozens of radio and TV preachers, plus various popular authors, magazines, and web sites. Instead of one official Bible translation, there may be half a dozen different translations represented in a single congregation. Instead of having your ministry role assigned by your bishop, you now are encouraged to choose for yourself where you want to serve, from a number of options. This new kind of freedom can be overwhelming at times for people leaving a more monolithic institution.