That ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

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#1
Summary: Why I left, what I did in order to leave, an apology for my action, my testimony of Jesus Christ, and intention to share my faith so, if nothing else, you may understand why I believe what I believe.



First of all, I have to apologize. For many years I have been on the fence about leaving Halforums permanently because of the way it made me feel when I visited - I rarely came away from a Halforums session feeling better about myself or the world, and often I would react to those negative feelings in a similarly negative manner, making posts intended to make others feel the way I felt after reading their posts.

About 18 months ago I received a very strong impression that rather than leaving, I should post a thread similar to the one I'm now making here, testifying of Jesus Christ.

Instead, I stopped posting. I tapered it off over a period of several months so it wouldn't be sudden and noteworthy. I certainly wasn't going to make a "goodbye" post. I still visited frequently and read a handful of threads, in part because I wanted to keep tabs on you, worrying that I might miss something important happening in the lives of my friends, for you truly are friends to me. I couldn't fully pull away from some of the more incendiary threads that I had posted in on the off chance that someone might have responded to a point I made. I had to keep visiting those threads even though the conversation moved well past any contribution I made to it. This compulsion led me to what I really need to apologize for now: I deleted somewhere around 10,000 of my own posts in an attempt to make it so I didn't feel the need to visit threads I no longer wanted to read. I didn't stop at just the threads that bothered me, but eventually started deleting all my posts.

I'm sorry about that. The posts are not gone, the administrators can undelete them, but I doubt the system has an easy way to do that, and it would be tedious, hard work. If it's important that they be restored then I'm willing to do the work rather than make someone else do it. I recognize that this selfish behavior may be very offensive to some, and so I want to make things right.

As I noted above, I received a very strong impression that I should share my testimony with you. Let me tell you a little about these impressions. Until I was a teenager I hadn't received any personal revelation about the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Up until that point I had merely been leaning on the testimony of others, and living the teachings of my church because it was the easy thing to do. I was taught that God is our Heavenly Father, that He exists, that he created us, and thus is our Heavenly Father. This makes us spiritual brothers and sisters. Like our earthly father, He loves us and wants us to return, and He hasn't left us without a way to communicate with Him. Not simply one way communication through prayer, but that God would answer our prayers in an unmistakable manner through the Holy Ghost. In the words of one prophet, Moroni, "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things" and in the words of Joseph Smith, "Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost"

So when I was a teenager I sought this for myself, and I did receive a sense of peace and pure joy that could not have come from within.

The impression that I should discuss my faith here on Halforums was much stronger, and is only eclipsed by a few other experiences I've had receiving revelation:

When I left for my 2 year proselytizing mission my girlfriend and I broke up. It was mutual, we didn't want to make promises to each other over such a long period of very little contact (mail only), and knew that if things were meant to be then it would work out later. When I returned in October 1997, we started dating again a few weeks later, and I found myself wanting specific revelation: to know if I should marry her. So I went to the temple, and after the ordinance I sat in the Celestial room and asked Heavenly Father if I should marry Raelyn. I was unprepared for the answer I received. It wasn't "yes" or "no" or "whatever" - it was "January and May" - specifically that I should propose in January, and we should be married in May. It turned out that 1) if I had been told "yes" I probably would have proposed in November or December, and I found out from her later that it wasn't until after the new year that she felt our relationship was one she wanted to have forever. 2) When we discussed a date I didn't tell her about my impression (what person wants to hear, "God told me to marry you, and we should marry in May!") and she initially was talking about a much later date - maybe after her college graduation a year later, maybe in the fall, etc, etc. When I suggested May it was immediately dismissed as way too soon and conflicted with another family event. However, in talking scheduling to her family and siblings, she discovered in February that the only time her entire family would be together simultaneously for the next several years was in May - and having her family together for her marriage and sealing was very important to her. These things - her family's schedule and her desire to have her entire (large) family present - were things I didn't know when I prayed about it in November and was told "January and May".

I hesitate to share this next bit with you because I haven't told anyone about this, but I am constrained by the spirit and feel I must share it now. I did not desire a large family, I never have. It's not that I wanted a small family, but I'd never considered the possibility, and the assumption was that I'd have a few children and that would be it. That probably would have been it, save for one thing: I have seen, held, and played with each of my children prior to their birth - some of them many years prior. I cannot fully explain this. Whether it's vision, dream, or otherwise, the Lord has shown to me each and every one of my children, and I cannot stand the idea, once having seen them, of not having them join my family and actually experiencing them in life. Their faces, the way they move, and the little things that set them apart from others are exactly as I experienced prior to their birth.

I'm not sharing this to show off, in fact as far as I can tell I'm receiving these promptings because otherwise I wouldn't act. I don't think I would have proposed without that shove. I know I wouldn't have had these children without these visions. My natural inclination, in fact, as you can see because I ran away from here, is to walk away from God, and so I believe these things are given to me because of my weakness, not because I'm particularly strong in my faith, or somehow special or noteworthy.

I'm sharing these sacred experiences with you so that you might truly believe that when I say I was called to share my testimony with you, you won't treat it as a passing fancy of mine, or me doing "missionary work" because my religious leaders told me to. This is, so far as I'm concerned, a specific call from God to you.

I know, with every fiber of my being, that God lives. That He loves us, and wants us to return home to Him, and He has provided a plan that allows us to do so. Central to this plan is Jesus Christ, who provided the path. God has called prophets in the past who have taught of Christ, and God has not changed - He still calls prophets today. One of these was Joseph Smith, who translated the Book of Mormon from an ancient record by the power of God. The prophet today is Thomas S. Monson, and I know that he leads and guides under the direction of Jesus Christ, who is the head of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Everyone is a child of God, and he has not left us alone - each of us can gain a personal testimony of any and all truth through the Holy Ghost. Some of you, having read this, are now feeling peace and joy - this is the spirit testifying as second witness to the truths I've shared with you. I exhort you to act on these feelings, and invite the "Mormon" missionaries into your home to learn more about this feeling, read the book Joseph translated, and pray to find out for yourself if any of this is true or even useful to you and your life. There is peace and joy within the Gospel of Jesus Christ that you won't find anywhere else on this world. I testify of the truthfulness of this, and do it in the name of my and your Savior, Jesus the Christ, amen.
 

GasBandit

Staff member
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#2
Well, first of all, I noticed your gradually increasing absence, and I wondered if it had been, as you described, because of how the place made you "feel worse about the world and yourself," because let's be honest - most of us are extremely cynical, and there's no small amount of hostility toward religion in general and mocking of the Mormon faith in particular bandied about on a regular basis. I also noticed your tendency to delete your own posts after a little while, but I didn't really understand the reason for it... I had wondered if it was because of frustrations with the threads' subject matter, or if it was a method of sanitizing your online presence, or something to that effect. I didn't see it as an offense, really.

Beyond that, I haven't much to say. I was brought up attending a number of denominations of the protestant faith - Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, to name the main four. I sang in the choirs, read the scripture, participated in the Christmas pageant... but I've never really felt the presence of a higher power in the events of my life, except perhaps in moments of weakness during times of misfortune when I actually wondered if events were evidence of some cosmic, unseen force acting against my well being. So I'm pretty much as agnostic as they come - I don't begrudge the faithful their faith, nor the faithless their faithlessness. I don't know if there's a creator-being "watching over us" or not, but I am of the opinion that most organized religion is an elaborate sham devised in antiquity to keep peasantry happy, productive and lawful when there was nothing to do after the sun went down other than sit in the dark and think about how much one's life sucks. But I don't judge the drinker his alcohol to make him happy, the smoker the herb, nor the religious their faith, so long as all of them are used responsibly and non-destructively. Much like marijuana, I tried religion when I was younger, and found it not to really be my thing. So, thanks for what I know you are trying to do in your message to me, but I'll pass.

I do kinda hope you'll stop deleting your posts, though.
 
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#3
I do kinda hope you'll stop deleting your posts, though.
I stopped deleting some time ago and have no intention to do so again, except in those cases where I shouldn't have posted something in the first place (and typically I'll simply edit it to say [redacted]).

let's be honest - most of us are extremely cynical, and there's no small amount of hostility toward religion in general and mocking of the Mormon faith in particular bandied about on a regular basis.
That is a part of it, and I hope that this thread will help with that aspect as I add more to it over time. Many here will not agree with my beliefs or the position I take on certain topics, but my hope is that explaining some of the foundation of my beliefs people will at least understand why.

I tried religion when I was younger, and found it not to really be my thing. So, thanks for what I know you are trying to do in your message to me, but I'll pass.
I completely respect that, and plan on keeping my overtly religious posts to this thread.
 
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#4
I'm pretty close to Gas's opinion on this, but for different reasons.

I was raised in an area that was heavily Catholic, and as I hit my pre-teen/teen years I tried to embrace it to a degree. When I went to college, I began to pay more attention to the actual modern day rules of the Catholic Church, and found I didn't agree with a lot of them. It didn't come up a lot when I was younger, because like a lot of American Catholics, my family was more paying lip service to the Church rather than following it's doctrine. So I found when I began to question why a woman would want to follow a religion which seems to hold them in disdain, my questions were met with confusion, more than help. It has basically left me with a general disdain for religion as an institution, and more questions than answers when it comes to what I believe.
 
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#5
I am sorry if you ever felt unwelcome here, @stienman. I have a diametrically opposed belief system to yours but I accept that people come to their faiths individually and would never scorn one for those beliefs. I have, and have had, numerous Mormon friends and I am thankful of their place in my life. Just as I am thankful when you come post here. Thank you for sharing your story and your beliefs.
 
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#6
I had noticed the absence, but had automatically assumed you had decided that your life was full of family and work, and that you needed to free up some time somehow, and so were reducing your time on the forums. In fact, I had also assumed that you were deliberately rationing your time here, that you were holding to some kind of self-enforced limit of your free time, and that your will had remained strong. This idea made me a little jealous, actually (since I personally have such trouble sticking to stuff like that).

I had also noticed that some of your posts had gone missing, but didn't realize you were deleting them en masse, and had assumed that you felt many of them were inflammatory in some way (even incidentally) and so had deleted them to remove their fuel from any fire(s) they had spawned or contributed to.

I would like to write more, but as my life is currently ruled by my work schedule, I must prepare and probably should not have been checking the forum with so little time prior to my departure anyway, since this is when I am most likely to find something I want to compose a lengthy reply to.

--Patrick
 
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#7
I want to share a story that I like to think help shaped my life. It was July 30th, 2001. I was just about to take the oath and be sworn into the Navy but the person swearing is in asked us first "by a show of hands who here would lay down there life for an satanist?" no one in the room raised there hands or said anything, finally he said "I would, that's what this oath means. It's about protecting everyone not just some of them," (not the exact quote but you get the jist). With that said I might not agree out even might be disgusted in something that people do (Westboro I'm looking at you) but I'll defend your right to do it while at the same time decrying how monstrous you are. That's it. Just wanted to share that

Sent from my SM-G920T using Tapatalk
 
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#8
This post contains ideas known to the state of California to cause cancer.
I'm sorry, but your signature after all of that caught me off guard and made me snort the water I was drinking. I'm not going to comment on anything else because most people already know what I would say and I don't want to turn anything negative, but I found that genuinely funny.
 
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#9
I want to share a story that I like to think help shaped my life. It was July 30th, 2001. I was just about to take the oath and be sworn into the Navy but the person swearing is in asked us first "by a show of hands who here would lay down there life for an satanist?" no one in the room raised there hands or said anything, finally he said "I would, that's what this oath means. It's about protecting everyone not just some of them," (not the exact quote but you get the jist). With that said I might not agree out even might be disgusted in something that people do (Westboro I'm looking at you) but I'll defend your right to do it while at the same time decrying how monstrous you are. That's it. Just wanted to share that

Sent from my SM-G920T using Tapatalk
Things became progressive so quickly after I left the navy. When I first signed up in the early 90's, I didn't choose a religious preference when filling out the forms. The guy at MEPS told me that if I chose a religious preference, I would get Sunday mornings off. Then he says "You can be any religion you want...except Satanist. You're not a Satanist are you?"

I wasn't...but the encounter sure got my my "separation of church and state" hackles up.

I ended up going with Mahayana Buddhism because they had cookies at their service.
 

GasBandit

Staff member
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#10
Things became progressive so quickly after I left the navy. When I first signed up in the early 90's, I didn't choose a religious preference when filling out the forms. The guy at MEPS told me that if I chose a religious preference, I would get Sunday mornings off. Then he says "You can be any religion you want...except Satanist. You're not a Satanist are you?"

I wasn't...but the encounter sure got my my "separation of church and state" hackles up.

I ended up going with Mahayana Buddhism because they had cookies at their service.
Maybe Satanists don't get Sunday morning off, because they generally do their thing at night?
 
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#12
I am sorry to hear that you have felt unwelcome here, while I personally hold very different beliefs from you I never intentionally would try to alienate someone because I wouldn't want to be alienated myself. That being said I am sure there are things I have posted that may have unintentionally made the way you feel worse. If so I want to say I am sorry
 
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#13
Things became progressive so quickly after I left the navy. When I first signed up in the early 90's, I didn't choose a religious preference when filling out the forms. The guy at MEPS told me that if I chose a religious preference, I would get Sunday mornings off. Then he says "You can be any religion you want...except Satanist. You're not a Satanist are you?"

I wasn't...but the encounter sure got my my "separation of church and state" hackles up.

I ended up going with Mahayana Buddhism because they had cookies at their service.
I went to a Wiccan service once when I was in the service. I still trip out thinking about how they were talking about elves and dwarves and middle earth

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#14
I'm sorry, but your signature after all of that caught me off guard and made me snort the water I was drinking. I'm not going to comment on anything else because most people already know what I would say and I don't want to turn anything negative, but I found that genuinely funny.
That's hilarious! I have long had signatures turned off, so I forget that I still have one, and honestly don't remember the last time I changed it...

I am sorry to hear that you have felt unwelcome here, while I personally hold very different beliefs from you I never intentionally would try to alienate someone because I wouldn't want to be alienated myself. That being said I am sure there are things I have posted that may have unintentionally made the way you feel worse. If so I want to say I am sorry
I have no great memory for associating names/people with things done, and am terrible about holding grudges, so I don't think badly of or feel particularly attacked by anyone here. For myself, in fact, I believe that I can take offense, but no one can force me to be offended - it's my choice, so this is really more of a "It's not you, it's me" sort of thing. When I see something that annoys me, rather than reacting, I should be looking inward and acting more on myself than on others.

I really don't want to encourage an environment where people feel like they have to be careful or walk on eggshells either - so while I appreciate the thought, please don't feel like you need to change anything.
 
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#15
If I'm being "careful," it's more like being careful to have a solid argument or my position will get torn apart.

And that's a good thing.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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#16
I think I need the tl;dr version because I found some time ago that (while I don't find my faithlessness threatened by it) I am better off not reading about people's faith . . . would that be the too theological; didn't read version?

I think you're saying your leaving. If so, good bye and fare well. I'll miss you. And like, hylian, if I played any part in making you feel unwelcome, I apologize. That would never have been the intent of any of my posts.
 
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#18
Yeah, that was the thread title. I got that. But is he actually leaving us?

He's not actually leaving us, is he?

I hope he's not leaving us.
 
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#19
Yeah, that was the thread title. I got that. But is he actually leaving us?

He's not actually leaving us, is he?

I hope he's not leaving us.
Not necessarily, but he's dialing back and will be skipping some threads, at least.
 
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#20
Well, here's hoping stienwoman is ready for all the babies they're gonna beget with all the time he saves avoiding the bad threads.
 
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#24
@stienman I'm still a little out of it from this cold, and the medications that go with it, but I owe you a full read-through of your post when I'm feeling better.
 
#25
I am not a medical professional, but this sounds like you have a severe mental illness, and I hope you discuss the voices you hear in your head with a (secular, this cannot be stressed enough) medical professional.
 
#26
If you change the words from "jesus" and "christian", would you be uh coddling someone that heard voices and told you to listen to imaginary voices with no basis in reality?
 

Dave

Staff member
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#27
Okay, Admin voice here. I removed the string talking about mental illness for a couple of reasons and I want to explain them because I know I'll hear about it from one side or the next.
  1. The post was needlessly insulting with the inference that religion is a mental illness. Whether I agree or disagree, this is unnecessarily insulting to Stienman.
  2. It completely derails the thread. Where before it was an on-topic religion thread, now it'll only be about Charlie and the pretty tactless post. I realize we go off the rails a lot, but in this case it's an intensely private topic to someone and we have been and should be respecting that. His thoughts on religion is confined to this single thread and hurts nobody.
If you disagree with my assessment, the posts are still there.

In light of @stienman's post, if he wants me to restore them I will.
 
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#28
In light of @stienman's post, if he wants me to restore them I will.
My concern would actually be the invective directed toward Charlie in response to his comments, and regardless of what I or others might say to try and calm things down, it would just reinforce people's negative opinions of him. While stated in a blunt way, I can certainly understand his perspective. Perhaps he came back just to troll, but I choose to believe this is his way of showing concern. Who knows what experiences he's had or those close to him have had that inform this suggestion. I know there are a lot of people harmed by religion and religious figures who also hear "voices", so there's nothing particularly wrong about the concern.

The delivery wasn't ideal, but I admire him for posting something he undoubtedly knew would cause a backlash.

At any rate, I'm not sure what to do either. Put them back and people will attack him. Leave them out and we're silencing him. Neither option is great.
 

Dave

Staff member
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#30
In light of @stienman's post, I've put back Charlie's posts, but NOT the responses. Responses here should stay on the topic but NOT on Charlie or his delivery.
 
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#31
Since I missed the now-deleted thoughts (and the apparent return of Charlie), I'm just going to skip all that and say that I'm glad you're back, buddy.

You and I come from very different religious backgrounds (in my case, a combination of moving around a lot and a seriously spread out family), but I'm very glad that you have been able to turn to it as a spiritual anchor that (it sounds like) has provided clarity and happiness throughout your life. That's something to be deeply cherished, and I very much understand how much that is important to you.

While I think I may have to walk a different road, thank you very much for being willing to share these feelings with us. You have a very genuine desire for us to share and experience the happiness you've found, and the grace with which you've expressed that desire is deeply appreciated. Welcome back.
 
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#32
Yeah, I missed what was said before, so I'm going to continue my trend of responding to something I really don't know what to say to and say this-

Welcome back, Charlie!
 

fade

Staff member
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#34
@stienman I would hate to see you go. You present your thoughts clearly and with evidence (which may be a bit ironic, given that this is a post about faith). I like reading them, even though I often disagree. I'm glad you're sticking around.

As for the faith thing--maybe this is odd to hear from a scientist--but I've never been sure how I feel. I can't say I never feel like there's something there. I follow evidence, and there've been a few too many coincidences. If that's all they are, I've lost nothing anyway. I don't care for organized religion for the same reasons as GasBandit--a lot of the tenets seem conveniently tailored to keep a populace in check, and I find it difficult anyway to follow a deity whose policy is essentially believe everything I say without hard proof, or I'll torture you forever. That seems cruel to me. Especially when I'm told the same deity created me as I am and knows everything--in which case it seems particularly cruel to gift me with a mind that questions and requires proof, and then tell me I can't do that when it comes to Him. But I don't scorn your beliefs. Live as you will.
 
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#35
@stienman I would hate to see you go. You present your thoughts clearly and with evidence (which may be a bit ironic, given that this is a post about faith). I like reading them, even though I often disagree. I'm glad you're sticking around.

As for the faith thing--maybe this is odd to hear from a scientist--but I've never been sure how I feel. I can't say I never feel like there's something there. I follow evidence, and there've been a few too many coincidences. If that's all they are, I've lost nothing anyway. I don't care for organized religion for the same reasons as GasBandit--a lot of the tenets seem conveniently tailored to keep a populace in check, and I find it difficult anyway to follow a deity whose policy is essentially believe everything I say without hard proof, or I'll torture you forever. That seems cruel to me. Especially when I'm told the same deity created me as I am and knows everything--in which case it seems particularly cruel to gift me with a mind that questions and requires proof, and then tell me I can't do that when it comes to Him. But I don't scorn your beliefs. Live as you will.

Scientist in the same boat as Fade here.


It's not that I don't want to try to attempt to redeem my soul or anything, but the way I am makes me curious and in need of direct evidence to accept a claim. I'd love to be comforted by the notion that my long dead friends and family are waiting for me, and there's an afterlife to look forward to. That'd be great. I read your story, Steiny, and it echo's a close friends who heard God speak directly to him. His whole family was under the impression that he was on drugs and he heard a voice say that it believe him. My mind, being the way it is, went straight to the logical conclusion that he was on drugs and he hallucinated the thing on a bad acid trip. I dunno... He's actively tried to convert me to the point where I cut off contact with him because I feel it's more of his pet project than an attempt to help my salvation.

Ultimately, I find myself much happier when I'm not actively seeking out religion and find solace in reading science non-fiction novels and articles about physics. Call it religious or whatever, but things like that make me appreciate how precious existence, consciousness, and live are more than any notion of a creator. I'd like to say I'm a strong agnostic. I marvel at how amazing and crazy this world and the universe are, but I'm humble enough to admit that I could never understand or want to understand the creative force behind it, if such a force exists.

I'd also like to say that I was raised in a strict Catholic household (and my family is still very devout); none of the canned ham answers from priests and family have ever done it for me. My biggest hanging point (going back to understand the creator thing), is the purpose and punishment of Eden. It kind of alludes to Fade's argument of cruelty. But then I remind myself that Eden never existed, and all is well in my mind again.[DOUBLEPOST=1451677858,1451677564][/DOUBLEPOST]
I am not a medical professional, but this sounds like you have a severe mental illness, and I hope you discuss the voices you hear in your head with a (secular, this cannot be stressed enough) medical professional.

Why do you always show up when I'm interested in this forum again? Anyway. I'd prefer Steinman stick around and you leave. His knowledge of electrical engineering is far more useful to the forum than your blathering social justice, bleeding heart liberal bullshit.
 
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