Is My Religion True?

my story by Ken Hunter with
Richard Patterson Jr.

 On the surface, we probably looked like many other devoted Mormon families: married 12 years, five beautiful children. But inside, I was beginning to feel restless and torn.

Ruth and I had both been raised as Mormons and were married in a Mormon temple. Even though I was 35 years old and active in the leadership of our congregation, questions about my faith had begun troubling me.

I wondered about what mattered most in Mormonism. I questioned the emphasis on strict obedience to dietary laws, “donations” to the church, and unquestioning submission to church authority. It seemed like these were more important than love and grace.

I was concerned about other Mormon doctrines too. For instance, how did the teaching that men and women could become gods and goddesses square with the Bible?

My biggest question was a fear. The Mormon Church taught us that our works made us worthy of God’s love and grace. My whole life I had prayed that Christ’s atonement would be effective for me. But what if I wasn’t good enough for God? What if I fell short somehow?

I hadn’t shared any of my questions with Ruth yet. Then, one evening, I took a deep breath and told her. As we talked, I discovered that Ruth had questions and doubts about Mormonism, too. Soon, it seemed we were heading together down a path of no return.

Still, we knew that if we left the Mormon Church, our families would be shattered. Ruth and I can both trace our Mormon lineage back six generations or more. Our parents would never understand our leaving. Was the truth really worth so much pain?

For months, Ruth and I lived with these nagging questions. Night after night, we read the New Testament together. We’d both read it before, but this time God showed us things we’d missed.

One night, after reading Romans 14:17, I exclaimed to Ruth, “Look at this! Paul says that the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. These are the things that really matter to God!”

But it wasn’t until the night we read Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church that we found the answer we needed the most. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God-not the result of works, so that no one may boast” (2:8-9, NRSV).

That night, for the first time in our lives, we began to understand what Christ did for us on the cross. His death had paid the full penalty for our sin and assured us of God’s gift of salvation. We didn’t have to do anything—and couldn’t do anything—to earn it.

God had given us the answers we’d prayed for. Both Ruth and I knew what we had to do now. In the quiet of our room, we both decided in prayer to trust Christ for our salvation and not all the “extras” of Mormonism.

Life has not been the same for us since. We were giddy with joy when we realized that we were really, finally free. I was free of the awful fear of never being sure of God’s love and salvation. Now, we were eager to attend worship with other believers. We didn’t need a church “law” to urge us. We were free to choose to do good, not out of fear or obligation, but out of love for God.

We felt a strong desire to leave the Mormon Church and find a Christian church where we could have fellowship and nurture our children in our new faith. So again, we prayed and asked, “Lord, where is the right church for us?” Then a neighbor suggested that we visit a Presbyterian church just a few miles from our home. That Sunday, the pastor called his sermon “It’s OK to Ask Questions.” We felt as if God had arranged that sermon especially for us. We’d found our new church home.

Now came the hard part: telling our parents. My folks seemed understanding at first. But later, their understanding changed to anger and sadness. Ruth’s parents took her decision as a personal rejection. Since both of us come from close families, this has hurt us both deeply.

People ask us, “Was it worth all the struggle and hurt?” Yes! Ruth and I can both say that discovering the good news of God’s grace and freedom in Christ is the greatest treasure we’ve ever found. We praise God every day for leading us “out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

Reprinted by permission, New Man.