If you somehow knew with absolute certainty that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was not true, would you leave it?First of all, I think a great deal of members could not even answer the question. They would not even be able to wrap their heads around the concept. Even entertaining the possibility of the Church being anything other than God's one, true church would be beyond comprehension.
Of the rest, I would predict that about half of the members would stay with the Church and the other half would leave. The reasons behind the decision would vary. Some would leave because they felt betrayed and lied to, some would leave because the Church demands absolute faith. Some would stay for pure social reasons, some would stay because they feel that the Church is an organization through which they can do some good.
I chose to leave for many reasons, some of which I have outlined in previous posts. Among these, however, is that I concluded that the world in which I was raised, which I had served and defended, was built upon a lie.
I am no movie critic (and I have no intention of becoming one on this blog), yet I can't help but be reminded of a film that parallels this feeling very well for me. If the reader is unfamiliar with The Truman Show, the storyline goes like this:
Truman's entire reality has been fabricated since shortly after birth. The island upon which he lives is actually the world's largest TV set. His family, friends, and wife are all actors. Everything he has believed, and worked and cared for is a carefully structured lie. One day, Truman begins to find that something isn't quite right. He finds it puzzling, but pays little attention to it. He blows it off and then hears an explanation for it later, which he gladly accepts. But then he notices more things that are incompatible with his perception of reality. Everyone he has loved does all within his or her power to keep Truman in the dark: to keep him from questioning the world they fabricated. Eventually, Truman discovers for certain that the world he had known was built upon a lie. He literally stands at the exit, when the man responsible for the chain of lies begins to speak with him. Truman asks, "Was nothing real?" He tells Truman that, although his world is built upon a lie, leaving it will only cause him pain: that even though his world is man-made, it is a good, decent world. He explains how he was always mindful of Truman: how he took care of him for his entire life. He tells Truman that he can't really leave. But still, it isn't real.
Truman finally does make the hard decision and leaves the world that was based upon lie after lie after lie. He had no idea what he was stepping into, but he knew that what he was stepping out of wasn't real, wasn't authentic.
While it is only a movie, the parallels with my experience with the Church are astounding to me.
I wonder how many people in the Church would want something real, no matter how frightening or uncomfortable, and how many people would insist that ignorance is bliss: that comfort and reassurance are more important than reality and authenticity.
As for me, I've been promised several times that leaving the Church would cause me only pain. I've been accused of being ungrateful for the morals I've learned from it. I've been asked, "Wouldn't you want to believe it, though?".
In the end, I am compelled to respond, "But it isn't real."