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Testimony of a Former Mormon

Clodette Woodhouse

I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in 1970. At the time I was divorced and a working mother with four children. A neighbor asked if she could take my children to Sunday school. This pleased me and I responded, “Yes!”

Later I found that it was the Mormon Church and I had some misconceived notions bout the church, even though I didn’t really know what their teachings were. I told my friend at work what I had done and expressed my concerns. She then told me she was a member of the LDS Church. I had many questions and she was able to convince me that it would be a good place for me to raise my children as they had so many good programs for them as well as for me. She also gave me a book, Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie. This book, she said, would answer all my questions.

I too started attending the LDS Church. I took this very seriously but instead of studying the book she gave me I looked at the people who were so kind and helpful. I decided to join the church and me and the kids were baptized on Christmas eve. I thought after one year I would evaluate my life and determine if it was better and if so it would be of God, as all good things come from Him. (Later I would find that is not the criteria for seeking truth).

Indeed, after a year, my life had improved and my children were in good constructive activities that were certainly beneficial to them. And for that, I will always be grateful. The focus on the family and the social aspects of the church made Mormonism a warm and comfortable place.

Several years later, I married my second husband, a lifelong member of the Mormon church. We moved to Colorado. During that time I attended the LDS Religious Institute for four years. This was a class for women only. There, I learned the more in-depth teachings of Mormonism. We studied all the scriptures, Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine & Covenants. We also studied the Old and New Testament on Spiritual Living.

As a convert I wanted to learn everything I had to do to attain the Celestial Kingdom. I attended all my meetings, accepted all my callings and we were full tithe payers. However, we were not temple Mormons, as my husband had been married to his first wife in the temple. This created a major problem for me when my only daughter became engaged and was planning to be married in the Salt Lake Temple. I was told I could not attend her wedding. At that time women were not given a recommend without being married to their husband in the temple. Needless to say, I was devastated. I had several meetings with our Bishop and Stake President to no avail. My husband’s brother was a Stake President in California at that time and we went to see him. When we left to return to Colorado he insisted I go back to my Stake President again and I did as he said. There must have been a phone call that changed my Stake President’s mind as they made an exception for me and my daughter because I went into the temple on the same day. We first received our endowments and our “new name” then I attended her wedding. I had a recommend for four years. I was doing my genealogy and would submit the names of my family members to the temples.

During this time in Colorado we were trying to put two families together and that was causing some major difficulties in our marriage also. At this time I was in the Spiritual Living Class in Institute, as before I would discuss my lessons with my husband as he had a lot of knowledge about Mormonism. But when we discussed this class we would have disagreements concerning the New Testament teachings and the LDS teachings, this was very perplexing to me. Later I would come to understand why. The teachings of the New Testament and Mormon teachings do not agree.

Around that time my youngest son and I took a trip to California. We stopped in Manti to do the temple work for my Mother. I had been told in Relief Society classes that I could very possibly “hear” from the other side that she was pleased. This did not happen and I was disappointed.

Upon arriving in California, a Christian friend asked me to go to church with him. His Pastor, John MacArthur, was going to be speaking on the Book of Mormon. Being familiar with him, I said yes. I never gave thought to what he would be saying about it.

I remember walking into the church and hearing familiar music. I got cold chills and tears in my eyes–it was very emotional. Later, I would contrast that with not having the spiritual experience I was looking for in the Manti Temple. I questioned that. What I heard that evening was totally offensive to me. I could not and would not believe the negative things he had to say!

After returning to Colorado this friend sent me a little booklet by Ed Gruss entitled, What Every Mormon Should Know. I read it and was surprised to hear that people had actually left the LDS Church. However, at that time it did not have much of an effect on me, but it certainly did later. These were all seeds that were being planted.

Our marriage problems were getting worse and we sought help within the LDS Counseling Services. This was to no avail. One day I asked my husband if I could just look in the yellow pages for a marriage counselor–someone who would be objective. My husband agreed. During our first few visits, we simply told the counselor our problems. Then she said that our problems are not this–or that–but that they are a sin problem (we did not know that she was a Christian counselor).

This did not sit well with my husband and he refused to continue. However, I did continue seeing the counselor since it was a very difficult time for me. Without me knowing it, I was really searching for TRUTH and this took me on the path of leaving the LDS Church. However, I never had any intention of leaving the Church or to find fault with it. I only wanted to improve our marriage.

Through this counseling, I was able to attend a Bible Study with a group of Christian women. This I did because of my Christian background. As well, because we did not have Bible Studies in the LDS Church. The study was on becoming better Christian women and I saw no conflict with it and Mormonism.

After awhile, I recall being enthusiastic about my Tuesday morning Bible Study. But, I found myself leaving the Ward Sacrament Meetings with a sense that something was lacking. This was bewildering to me. One Sunday morning at the Mormon church, a young man got up and gave a 15 minutes talk. It was on the wedding at Canon where Jesus turned the water into wine. This, said the young man, was Jesus’ own wedding and where He had married both Mary’s and Martha! Thus proving that polygamy was something that Jesus participated in! I looked around to see if anyone else was bothered by this–amazingly, they were not.

At that moment the following thought came to mind: “What does light have to do with darkness? Come out from among them.” Later I came to realize that this thought was a Bible verse--2 Corinthians 6:14 and 17. Someone had told me that my Church taught this teaching about Jesus, but I dismissed it until I heard it at the Ward Sacrament Meeting! The Holy Spirit was planting more seeds right in my LDS Ward.

Upon leaving the Mormon church that Sunday morning, my eye caught the name on the building, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” At that moment I came to realize that Jesus was not there. There are a lot of good things about the Church but the teachings are not centered around Christ.

I had come from a Lutheran background and knew that Christianity never taught such things. This took me to studying LDS books and comparing them to what the Bible said. I found many inconsistencies and also that the Mormon Prophets would contradict one another on doctrines. This was also very confusing. Finally, I went back to the book, Mormon Doctrine, the book that was first given to me by my friend when I was looking into Mormonism.

As I studied Mormon Doctrine, I was appalled at the teachings. I found that there is no salvation without Joseph Smith (page 670); that salvation is not by grace alone but rather it is coupled with obedience to the law and ordinances of the gospel (page 671); and that they also taught the plurality of Gods (page 576); as well as exaltation through Celestial marriage to actually becoming a God (page 256).

When I asked my husband about these doctrines he said “yes” he did believe them and that I simply had lost my faith. I was angry, as well as, being terribly hurt. Many tears were shed during this time of transition.

I know now that the ladies in the Bible Study were praying for me but they never told me the LDS Church was wrong. I was encouraged to go to the Christian Book Store and get a Living Bible. I, of course, did not want to do this but eventually I did. As I was in the bookstore I saw books on Mormonism. I was confused by the titles, Mormonism: Shadow or Reality?, as well as, The Mormon Mirage, and The Maze of Mormonism. I looked up and I saw the sign above “CULTS.’ I was shocked! I bought the Living Bible, went home and in the following weeks I just devoured the New Testament. More seeds planted in my soul!

I eventually became convinced that Mormonism and Christianity were not the same and I had to do something about it. I returned to the Christian Book Store and purchased some of the books I had seen in the “CULT” aisle.

As I began to read these books and compare them with the LDS books we had in our home, I found that the books I bought confirmed the teachings of the church. This entire process from trying to save my marriage to finding that Mormonism was not founded on Christianity took me nearly two years. It was the most traumatic thing that ever happened to me. I felt God had abandoned me. I was suffering from depression. I was confused. I did not know where to find help or what Church I should go to. I would watch Christian T.V. and would become even more disheartened. Leaving Mormonism is a transition and we actually go through the grieving process because of the loss.

In April 1981, I sat down at my kitchen table to write my letter of resignation for myself and my children. At one point I stopped and began to think of all the things that Joseph Smith (the Mormon prophet) had accomplished. He brought forth the Book of Mormon, his own militia, his own banking currency. He got his people to follow him from Kirkland, Ohio to Navoo, Illinois. These were very hard times for the Mormon people. Joseph Smith built temples that were very costly and the people had to sacrifice much to build them. As I pondered this, I said, “God how could he have done all this without supernatural help?” It was as if a light came on and I knew that indeed he did have supernatural help but it was not of God! I was stunned. I finished my letters and mailed them. Shortly thereafter my husband sued me for divorce because I had become an apostate, as the Mormons say.

As I have pondered this experience I look back and see how the Holy Spirit was working in my life starting when I received the Mormon Doctrine book from my friend; when I listened to Pastor MacArthur speak about the Book of Mormon–to all the other seeds that were planted along the way. Scripture says, some plant, some water and God will give the increase (1 Corinthians 3:7). We never know where a person is at or what kernal of information will help someone come to know the Lord.

After leaving the LDS Church, I returned to California and found that there was a group of former Mormons that met as a support group. This was so very helpful to me. Even though I was out of the Mormon church and on my path to restoring my Christian connection, I attended a presentation that the Sackets were doing on the LDS Temple Ceremony. In the temple Ceremony, Mormon women are given a “new name” that are only given to their husbands. The Mormon women are never to reveal it to anyone else.

Well, while listening to the presentation on the LDS Ceremony, I learned that whoever attends the Mormon ceremony on the same day is given the SAME “new name.” (There are only six names given to women and six to men as well). Mormons do not know this. They think they are being given a special and unique name that very few, if anyone else, are given.

This new information was hard for me to believe, even at this point of my leaving Mormonism. So, I called my daughter and asked her what her “new name” was. She said it was Amelia–the same name as mine! This in turn helped her to finalize her transition out of the LDS Church as well.

I am so grateful for all those who helped me see the errors of Mormonism and to my Savior Jesus Christ for touching my life and bringing me to His saving knowledge.

I write this testimony in hopes that it may be of help to those who are seeking after the truth of Jesus Christ. I would be happy to answer questions or help those who are in the process of leaving the LDS Church in any way I can.

The Lord has allowed me to be in a ministry to the Mormon people and educating the Christian Church about Mormonism for some 20 years as the director of Concerned Christians & Former Mormons. I am available to do presentations in Churches and Sunday School classes. There are many books to help Christians to witness to their Mormon friends, one in particular is Donna Morley’s A Christian Woman’s Guide to Understanding Mormonism. This is a book every Christian Woman should read as it will enable her to talk with Mormons she may come in contact without the intimidation.

My email address is ccfm@ezsg.com. I can be reached at 1-800-215-5018. I will be glad to talk with anyone who has questions or needs help in understanding Mormonism.

Faith & Reason Forum would like to thank Clodette for sharing with us her story of spiritual rejuvination through Jesus Christ.