I was born in Provo, UT, the youngest of four boys. I was raised in the LDS church and baptized when I was 8 years old by my eldest brother. Up until I was about 14 I never had any doubts about the church. I didn’t have any reason to. That all changed when I became the Teachers Quorum president. I was told to pick two counselors, and after thinking and praying about it, I came up with two of my friends. However, one of them did not go to church and hadn’t been to church for years.
This friend that hadn’t been to church happened to share the same first name as another active member. When the time came to set me and my counselors apart, that friend wasn’t there and the bishop instead called up the active member with the same first name to be my counselor. I asked the bishop if I could talk to him for a minute out in the hallway. When we were in the hallway I told him that this was not the person that I had received revelation to be my counselor. He checked his list and saw that I indeed did not select the person he was going to set apart. He then told me that the person I received revelation for didn’t come to church and that it would be fine to set apart a different person. This blew my mind. These two people had nothing in common except their names. How could the revelation that I received be cast aside like this? If my revelation was cast aside for what was convenient at the moment how many times had this happened at other levels of the church? This was the moment that caused a small fissure of doubt to crack open in my mind.
I began to research the church. I would read articles criticizing the church and I would read articles defending the church from that criticism, slowly I had more and more doubts about the church. I researched other beliefs to see if I could find something that made sense to me. It was around this time that I got a small Book of Mormon that could fit in my back pocket. Though I had my doubts about the church I had very little doubt about the Book of Mormon. I would read it quite often whenever I had some free time hoping that I would find something that would bring me some peace of mind. I didn’t know what I was looking for in the Book of Mormon or in other beliefs, but I felt like something was missing in my life.
Whatever was missing led me into a deep depression. There was something that I needed but I didn’t know what it was. Life began to have no meaning to me. I didn’t understand why I existed anymore. I didn’t understand why other people existed and what we were supposed to be doing. What was our purpose? Without a reason to exist, I started to have suicidal thoughts.
I broke down and told my mom how depressed I had been feeling. She took me to a psychologist for therapy and a psychiatrist for medication. I would continue to see both of them over the coming months.
Though I was depressed I continued my research and one day I sat down at my computer and thought about what I wanted to search for that day. I had searched for a lot of topics, whatever I thought might fill the void. That day I wanted to search for information about the sealed portion of The Book of Mormon. I thought I could find a list of the times it was mentioned in the Book of Mormon so I could read about it. To my surprise, the top two sites claimed to have translated the sealed portion.
I went to the first site and started reading their book. I didn’t get very far into it before I realized it wasn’t what I was looking for. It was as confusing and esoteric as a lot of other religious texts, nothing like The Book of Mormon was to me.
Then I went to the other site and started reading The Sealed Portion there. This site also included the original lost 116 pages. It only took a couple of pages of reading the lost 116 pages to know that I had the real deal. It felt like reading The Book of Mormon. I knew I had to print it out and read as much as I could so that my parents wouldn’t find out and take it away.
I used all of the white paper I could find in our house and then printed it on various colored pieces of paper I found to get as much as I could. I read it whenever I could over the next few weeks. My attitude towards life changed. The weight was being lifted. It began to feel like I had a purpose again. This is what I had been looking for.
As I was reading it over the next few weeks I began to talk to people about the things I was reading without telling them where I read it. One day I told my mom that the sacrament wasn’t useful because those that are worthy don’t need it and those that need it are not worthy. This point was astonishing for my mom and she curiously asked where I had read this information. At this point, I told her about The Sealed Portion. She became extremely upset and demanded to see what I had. I went to my room and got the pages that I printed off and she furiously took them away from me.
I believe it was at this time that I used my Nintendo Wii, which had a very basic internet browser built in, to follow a discussion group that was talking about the next book that was being written, Sacred, not Secret—The Official Guide In Understanding the LDS Temple Endowment. This book and the discussion around it further confirmed to me that I had found what I was looking for.
The next time we went to the psychologist he and my mom had a private talk, probably about The Sealed Portion, after they talked we all talked together. My mom agreed to let me have the pages I had printed off back and to give me some freedom to continue following the work. I think the psychologist had convinced her to do so.
Not too long after that, I decided I didn’t want to go back to the psychologist anymore, there wasn’t any need to. Then I started throwing my anti-depressants away when my mom would give them to me, though after a month or so I told her I had been throwing them away and I didn’t want to take them anymore. I have never needed them again.
Because the weight had been lifted I felt like there wasn’t any more pressure to fulfill the expectations of the world anymore and I also didn’t get as much joy out of most of my physical possessions as I did before. I was just happy being. Many of these physical things became a burden to me and took up space, so I started giving them away to anyone who wanted them. It was even more freeing.
I wanted to share this information with other people that may be in the same situation I was in, I was hesitant though because it was so hard dealing with my family knowing what I was reading that I didn’t want other people to go through that pain as well. But, if they needed it as bad as I did I wanted them to find it.
So I decided to tell my best friend about The Sealed Portion. It didn’t go that well, though in hindsight it could have been a lot worse. I showed him what I had found and he froze up and couldn’t speak for a moment, just staring at the pages I had printed, then he told me he had to go home and quickly left. The next time we saw each other he acted as if nothing had happened. Though we are still friends I have never mentioned it again to this day, and he has never asked.
There was a girl that I liked at the time, Jessica, that I also wanted to share it with. I decided to not mention it directly as I had done with my friend. I would talk about scriptures and church with this girl and try to get her to ask questions that the church couldn’t answer for her. Then I would do my best to answer them with what I had learned in The Sealed Portion. The answers that I was giving to her seemed to make sense, so I started giving her parts of The Sealed Portion without telling her that’s what they were from. From there I believe she was hooked as I was. After some time I told her where the pages came from, it didn’t bother her at all that they hadn’t come from the church.
One day after I came home from school my mom told me she wanted to have a serious talk with me. We sat down on the couch and she pulled a large stack of papers out and handed them to me. They were all articles about Christopher and the work, how he was a liar, deceiver, and had made up The Sealed Portion. But I had already read most of these articles and it didn’t phase me. Joseph Smith had similar things said of him. And regardless of where the information came from I knew it was what I was looking for. I gave them back to my mom and told her just that. Later, my mom contacted Jessica’s mom and I think she gave Jessica’s mom the articles. My mother warned Jessica’s mom about me, and Jessica was banned from seeing me again.
It was at this point that I decided I did not want to go to church any longer. I had been going to church to appease my mother, and going to church wasn’t making me happy. But I decided to teach one final lesson to the Priests Quorum before I left. At the beginning of my lesson, I asked the class what the gospel was. I got standard answers of “going to the temple”, “paying tithing”, “taking the sacrament”, etc. I showed them in the Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Book of Mormon that the Book of Mormon “contained the fullness of the gospel as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants”. And then I had us start reading the Sermon on the Mount in 3rd Nephi. We didn’t have time to get through it all, unfortunately, but I tried to point out that most of the things everyone had mentioned were never mentioned in the scripture. I was a terrible teacher though and I don’t think anyone in my class got it. After that I left the church and never went back.