Daryl BrownI am a Mormon. I believe the basic tenets of the Mormon faith. I believe the Book of Mormon is a historically true and divinely compiled book. I believe Joseph Smith was a prophet of God just like the ancient prophets of Old Testament lore. I intend to honor the integrity of the saints of God.
On my father's side of the family, the Johnson family came to America landing in Plymouth Rock in the 1600's and generations later settled in upstate New York. They were close friends with the Joseph Smith Sr. family. They moved with the early Saints from New York across the country to Utah and Arizona and help settle pats of northern Mexico.
Joel H Johnson who wrote the popular LDS anthem "High On A Mountain Top" was my fourth great grandfather. Joel's brother Benjamin F. Johnson sacrificed all he possessed multiple times in his life to continue the work of God among the early saints. One time when Benjamin's family were quarreling, he went to his closet to pray asking the Lord to help humble his family so that they might live up to the promises they had made as saints. Fifteen minutes after he prayed dark clouds gathered and unleashed a storm that destroyed his entire property and much of his livestock, all family to remain unharmed. That is the integrity I honor. My family lines recon from both brothers, Joel H and Benjamin F Johnson
On my mother's side, the MacRae family were close to the prophet Joseph Smith. Alexander MacRae was incarcerated with Joseph and others for the duration. While suffering in jail under false charges, Alexander's wife brought their first infant so his father could see him for the first time. Alexander asked Joseph to bless this child and give him a name. Joseph named this child after himself while pronouncing wonderful blessings upon him. I am descended from Alexander and his son Joseph MacRae.
Many other of my family suffered as they sacrificed to move across the plains to become a people. Some of my family died as a result of the immense sacrifice made to allow the saints to gather.
I am one of forty-eight grandchildren on my father's side and twenty-three on my mother's side. Most all of them are active LDS, card carrying members eager to further the work of the Lord. I love my family and enjoy worshiping with them.
Joseph Smith sacrificed everything including being a martyr for the cause of the Lord's work. He brought forward so much truth into this world. His works began a modern revolution of ideas which resulted in transforming the face of our nation. Yet we have marginalized his efforts by brushing aside the foundation he laid. The work he began has been hijacked by men who have systematically dismantled many of the plain and precious truths Joseph revealed.
When my eyes began to open to these problems three years ago, I asked the Lord where He wanted me. He expressed His desire to me that I would remain a member of the LDS church. Two years later when my temple recommend was about to expire I again asked the Lord what I should do. He again expressed his will to remain a member of the LDS church, yet that I should be open and honest in my recommend interview. So I researched the questions of the recommend interview and wrote both the questions I would be asked and the answers to the best of my understanding. I read the answers as the ward leader asked the questions. I handed him a copy of the document I had prepared.
It has been nearly a year since that interview. A year of careful navigating the gulf between my beliefs and modern LDS Mormonism. I have tried my very best to be in integrity to my personal beliefs and membership in the LDS church. I love the LDS church, the people of the church, my family in the church, my heritage from the church and all that the church has done for me in my life. I love the association I have with members of the church.
However, that does not mean that I agree with their choice to excommunicate me. I wanted to fulfill the will of the Lord for me. I wanted to keep the integrity of LDS membership. I wanted to continue my relationships with the LDS people. However, being labeled as an apostate is no small matter. Most people, including some in my own family, would rather treat someone labeled apostate as toxic waste. (I am writing from recent experiences.) Now I find myself sorting through long-time friends and family members trying to discern who is accepting of me and who is not.
Many people have asked me why I don't just quietly go away and leave the church alone. They tell me that if I don't believe the same way as them I should just go away. At first I thought they were just trying to be hurtful. I thought they were just lashing out at me for trying to express my beliefs. Yet so many good, honest people all wondering the same thing, I needed to recognize it as a sincere question. So I write this essay to try to explain why. Why I did not just simply walk away. Or why I don't just quietly walk away now that I have been exed.
I have deep roots. As deep as they could possibly go in the Mormon beginnings. I have family, friends, a whole life of my devoted service. My integrity is to those. Not to social pressure. I love the Lord very much. His will in my life is my single highest priority. I have failings, but I try to remain in integrity to my sincere beliefs. Many times that gets in the way of my association with LDS people.
However, I am a Mormon. I will always be a Mormon. No institution can strip that from me. I will always love the LDS people. They are my people. They may reject and despise me for expressing my beliefs, but I will always love them and have a deep fondness for them. My integrity is to the Lord.
In honor of my contemporary family. In honor of the Alexander and Joseph MacRae family and the Joe H and Benjamin F families. In honor of the early saints who sacrificed so much by crossing the plains. In honor of Joseph the prophet who gave his own life at age thirty-eight, and in honor of all of those who sacrificed to bring the Book of Mormon to us from Nephi, Ether, Jared and Moroni... In honor of all who have sacrificed to keep the actual body-of-the-church-ratified standard works. I honor your efforts. I will never forget your sacrifices. I will remain true to the Lord. I will do His will by remaining in integrity to the truths Joseph Smith brought forward.
On the converse, I reject the circular regurgitation of men who have strayed from the head of this dispensation, Joseph Smith. Amen to the priesthood of those men who have purposely changed the solemn works of Joseph and those before him. Their keys have been wrested.
What is "The Church"?
Doctrine & Covenants 10:
67 Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.
68 Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.
69 And now, behold, whosoever is of my church, and endureth of my church to the end, him will I establish upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.