“Kurt…. Are you still Mormon?”
A blog post in which I address the question that so many people feel the need to ask me.
I had a conversation yesterday that I’ve had dozens of times in the last eleven months. I can always tell when this conversation is going to take place because it starts the same way every time.
“Hey Kurt! What’s new in your life?”
Then the conversation goes one of two ways. I either say “nothing” because I don’t want to really have a real conversation. Or I say something like…
“Well we just had a baby boy” or something like “Well I really enjoy studying the Bible lately.”
If I go with the latter we get right into it. If I go with the baby thing this is what happens…
“Oh! A little boy! That’s so great! What’d you name him?”
“Oh wow! Been reading the Bible lately?”
So you can see, all roads usually end up in a discussion about the Bible. Which I love! But they usually end up the same way every time. I start talking about how the Bible is a beautiful book and how it’s one continuous story about Jesus Christ. Then the person will usually say something about how Jonah getting eaten by a whale was a good story and then I say “actually I haven’t gotten there yet, I’m only in 1 Samuel, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a whale and was just a really large fish.”
We go back and forth between them saying something like “I really like the New Testament but I think the God of the Old Testament was a little harsh for my liking” and me saying “Well actually God is the same yesterday, today, and forever and he acted the same back then as he does now. The only thing that has changed is us.”
A lot of times then they’ll say “what about all the mistranslations, amiright? I mean I believe in the Bible but you know as far as it’s translated correctly and all that.” Then I say “I’m reading a straight from Hebrew to English translation actually!” And then it happens.
They get that look on their face. You know the one. They start slowly shaking their heads up and down, not blinking, tentatively beginning to try and say it.
Then they say it.
“So you know….. The Book of Mormon is really great too, though. Do you read the Book of Mormon?”
“Not right now.”
“Oh. So….. Are you struggling? Or something? Are you still doing the Mormon thing?”
“Yes, more than ever actually.”
At this point the conversation has changed and it usually fizzles out with them not believing me and me thinking about ten other Old Testament stories I wish I could talk to them about.
I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the amount of times that people have asked me if I’m still Mormon when they find out I’ve become obsessed with the Bible. It has completely blindsided me. Not something I ever anticipated when I started on this strange and wonderful journey.
And this all leads me to believe something very unfortunate about our Mormon faith. Here I go. I’m gonna say it. I’m saying it.
Mormons don’t believe the Bible.
It’s like that ” as far as it is translated correctly” amendment is an automatic out clause. We believe in the New Testament. We believe in Adam and Eve. We believe in Moses. But the rest. Oh boy. Everything else is weird and probably was changed by evil men from time to time until finally some evil terrible medieval translator in a dark castle somewhere let Songs of Solomon into the Canon because he was one of those infamous pervert monks like in Game of Thrones. It’s seems like if I did a poll of Mormon opinion on this issue on a random street corner, 7 out of 10 people I spoke to would agree with my above sentiment.
Listen. I am well aware of how self righteous I sound right now. I’m saying it anyways. It’s a problem folks, plain and simple.
After Christ was baptized he went into the desert to fast for 40 days and 40 nights. He was tempted severely by the devil three times. Each time he was tempted, Christ, in his hunger and delirium, denied the devil all three times. And do you know what he quoted all three times? That’s right. Moses and the Old Testament. Jesus thought it was important.
Most of us have been Christian our whole lives. A lot of us Mormons grew up outside of Utah and a lot, like me, grew up in the Bible belt where we had to defend ourselves against accusations that Mormons aren’t Christians on an almost daily basis. Yet most of us consider the Old Testament a long boring volume of begats and more begats. We deny ourselves the opportunity to intimately read from and study the very books, stories, and words that Christ studied, meditated on, and loved in order to prepare for his earthly ministry. It’s sad and in the realest sense of the word it is a tragedy. A tragedy that most of us have in our homes a book that took almost 1,000 years to write and contains the oldest collection of relevant writings in the world, and yet we think it’s outdated because on the surface it is, and we’ve never been shown to peek under that surface layer.
But it’s not outdated. It’s ancient. It’s a miracle in our midst that it has survived this long. Without it there would be no church, no Book of Mormon, no restoration, and only a small and partial knowledge of the character of God, his son Jesus Christ, this world, ourselves, and our purpose here.
The Bible is relevant. It is more than that. It is necessary. Essential. Life saving. It must not be read. It must be studied and it must be studied constantly.
So. The question. Are you still Mormon, Kurt?
Hell yes you bet your ass I’m still Mormon.