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
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 Gods love and grace. My whole life I had prayed that
Christs atonement would be effective for me. But what if I wasnt good enough
for God? What if I fell short somehow?
I hadnt 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. Wed both read it before, but this time
God showed us things wed 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 wasnt until the night we read Pauls 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 Gods gift of salvation. We didnt have to do anythingand
couldnt do anythingto earn it.
God had given us the answers wed 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 Gods love and salvation. Now, we were eager to attend worship with other
believers. We didnt 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 Its OK to Ask Questions. We felt as if God
had arranged that sermon especially for us. Wed 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.
Ruths 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 Gods grace and freedom in
Christ is the greatest treasure weve 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.