I have a question that troubles me greatly. I was baptized at age 8 but became inactive at age 17-18. I married outside of the church and had a child. I did a horrible thing and committed adultery, ended my marriage and went on to marry the woman I had the affair with. I have been married to her for 8 years now and have a child with her. Over the course of the last 3 or so years I have come to the awful realization of the horror of my actions. I have pleaded with the Lord for forgiveness, asked for forgiveness from my ex-wife and confessed to my bishop of the horrible things I had done. My heart is broken and the thoughts of my actions sicken me and I have a complete change of heart.
I also have something I never developed before and that is a testimony of the gospel. I have returned to activity and now here is my issue. My current wife absolutely hates the Mormon church and will not agree to allowing our child to go with me to church. She insists on going to a ‘real’ Christian church which is nothing more than a local “non-denominational.” I have brought up things like starting a year supply and it results in days worth of fighting and contention. I have not even brought up tithing due to the reaction based on something as non-threatening as food storage. I go with my wife and our son to the non-denominational services out of a show of respect and support and then I go to my services afterward. I also bring my son from my first marriage (when he is with me) to the non-denominational to try to maintain unity and minimize contention.
My concern is what would happen if my wife never accepts the church and then my sons also miss the gospel message during their formative years and then come to think like most of the “born-agains” that the Mormon church is evil. I try to live according to the principles of the church and hope that will erode some of the misconceptions about the church but I have not personally seen such hatred to the church that my wife has. I realize this is a selfish question but if nothing changes what type of condemnation is upon me, despite my being on the road of repentance, because it is my actions that have created a situation that, at least for the time being, prevents my children from receiving the full gospel message. And more importantly what about my children through no fault of their own did not get to hear the message in mortality, is the best they can get the terrestrial kingdom?
J, from Chandler, Arizona
In the end, we are responsible only for our own actions. Our recreant actions my influence the lives of others, but those others are themselves responsible for how they react to their environment. So don’t feel condemned because your past actions may appear to prevent others in your family from being active in the Mormon Church. If it were up to you, they would be active.
Now, concerning the relationship with your wife with respect to her beliefs– There is an Article of Faith that would be applicable in this case—
We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
The term, all men, includes the other members of your own family. She has much right to her beliefs as you do to yours. Now, we both know that your beliefs have eternal validity and that hers do not. However, arguing about religion is absolutely counter- productive. The result of any argumentative approach to differences of belief have only one result–that of fortifying the belief of the combatant. The Savior said—
He that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another (3 Ne 11:29).
So you are doing the right thing by supporting your wife in her beliefs. But the thing for you to do is to produce a happy environment in your home without compromising your own beliefs. You should continue to participate in your own religion to the extent possible, and continue to support your wife in hers. The positive things that you can do to change the situation would be 1) to pray continually and fervently to your Heavenly Father to touch your wife’s heart so that she will receive the Spirit and a testimony that the gospel is true. 2) Live a completely exemplary life. The example of righteousness in your life, including the principles of long-suffering, gentleness and meekness, and love unfeigned (D&C 121:41) will go a long way toward softening her toward your beliefs. It is also important for you to attend the temple and receive there the blessings and promises that are made to the faithful. Then things will eventually work out according to the providence of the Lord.