Being a raised Mormon for 16 years now, some things that I have been taught have just always seemed right. But lately, the older I get, the more that I am starting to question things. Like the temple for example. I used to want to be married in the temple so much. But now when I think of it, I don’t desire a temple marriage at all. I just have a hard time agreeing that I should have to marry another Mormon. I don’t think that is right. But sometimes I feel so bad for feeling this way. Not a spiritual feeling, just that if I didn’t get married in the temple I would be a bad person and ruin things for my family. And I don’t think that is fair. Why should I feel like this is something that I have to do? And I don’t think it’s fair that if you marry outside the church you can’t receive the highest exaltation just because you fell in love with a non-member, whether or not you are a good person. I just don’t agree with it.
And I have just been having a hard time agreeing with all sorts of Mormon Church doctrine. Like, if there really were plural gods, and if we could one day become gods ourselves, why does it never mention that in the Bible? Why does God say that there is only one god?
What it really comes down to is this: I don’t know for sure if I want to be a Mormon. What I want to do right now is go and see what some other churches are like. And just see how I feel when I am there. I feel that is something that I need to do if I am going to decide whether or not Mormonism is right for me. But my parents won’t let me. And they said that no matter what, I have to be Mormon until I am 18. It seems like they are hiding something from me, or they’re almost threatened by other churches. Why is that? And are my feeling really bad ones? I can’t change the way I feel, but I hate feeling guilty for what is really in my heart. What can I do? No matter what, I want to go see another church at least once someday, just to make sure that it is not the true church, but what do I do until then?
You ask some very profound questions that are of concern to many young people, and that have been of concern to many people who once were young. There are answers to all your questions. But it seems to me that you have heard all the answers before. So let me not try to quote LDS doctrine.
Your concern about whether the Mormon Church is really true or not seems to be at the core of your problem. Since you are not sure that it is true, it is perfectly reasonable to question the validity of specific doctrines. I don’t think that you should feel guilty for questioning the truthfulness or the validity of something that is so vital for one’s welfare. That is very commendable. What would be of great concern would be if you didn’t care.
If you would like to know whether or not the Mormon Church is really true, you will not find out by just listening to the opinion of others; and you will certainly not find out by investigating the doctrine of other churches. There is nothing wrong with that, but it just won’t solve your problem. There is a way, however, to find out for yourself if the Mormon Church is indeed true. It may sound simple, disarming, or even trite, but it does work. You will know the Church is true when it is revealed to you by the Holy Spirit. How could that happen? There are certain rather specific conditions which must be filled in order for a person to receive and be sensitive to the influence of the Holy Spirit.
1) We must have a sincere desire to know the truth.
2) We must keep ourselves as clean and free from the contamination of evil as we can.
3) We must have a sufficient degree of humility that we can accept the truths that come into our minds.
4) We must sincerely ask the Father if He will let us know that the Church is really true.
5) We must try to put in practice the principles of the gospel as we know them. That is an expression of faith–to try it out, to act as if it were true. That shows to the Father a willingness to obey and believe. This is a very general rule. For instance, if you wanted to by a car, would you not at least drive it before making a decision? If you wanted to buy a Buick, for instance, you drive a Ford around for awhile?
6) Then I would suggest that we read–or read again–the Book of Mormon. This reading should not be like reading a novel. It should be a sincere attempt to learn the truth. I would suggest that as you turn each page, you pause and ask our Heavenly Father if He will tell you whether the book is true or not. If you do that on every page, and are sincere in your attempt, I can promise you that before you finish reading the book, the Father will have answered your prayer.
I don’t think that I would be too hard on your parents. They undoubtedly love you very much, and are extremely anxious that you find joy and happiness in your life. As you know, you are legally obligated to be obedient to them until you are 18. You are also morally obligated to do so. Let me quote you a scripture that is not too well known, but contains what I believe to be some very valuable advice.
My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.
When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.
For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life (Proverbs 6:20-23).