Although I am as comfortable with my testimony of the Church of Jesus
I recently read an article about those who question or leave the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was especially struck by this poignant thought that the article contained:
"I worry that many younger Mormons are going through a very difficult and at times traumatic break from the Mormon church without resources and support that might have better informed their decision about staying or leaving or anything in between. "
It would be healthy for the Church to be more open about such things. Leaving or questioning the LDS Church is almost never the end of the world for the one who leaves or who questions. In reality, it's often the sign of a healthy mind and a healthy spirit.
So, why is a break with the Church so traumatic and "without resources" for many of those who leave? It needn't be this way.
I'm not sure if members of the LDS Church:
(a) Don't know how they are supposed to relate with those who leave or contemplate leaving the Church?
(b) Think that leaving the Church is akin to sentencing one's self to eternal hellfire?
(c) Fear that empathizing with someone who questions or leaves is tantamount to questioning one's own witness of the truthfulness of Christ's gospel?
If it is "a", it would be helpful to have discussions in the LDS communities and in LDS General Conference about how to relate to those who perhaps seem to us to have rejected us in their questioning or rejection of LDS doctrines.
If it is "b", that's sad. Ours is (or at least should be) a very inclusive Church, with a grander idea of salvation than any other that I'm aware of. The atonement can fix just about anything, so we ought to ourselves show grace to someone who leaves or questions the Church by caring for them just as much as we ever did.
If it's "c", there's hope. Everyone questions. Questioning is healthy. Questioning is the key to spiritual, mental, and emotional growth.
In any case, this is apparently something we in the Church need to work on. If someone leaves, they are always welcome to come back. And if they leave, they are no less a good person than when they were a member of the Church. Our annoyance at the questioner or the leaver is almost always a greater impediment to their search for truth than their own questioning or leaving is.
Therefore, leaving or questioning the Church should not be seen as some sort of treason or other attack or sign of weakness. Actually, it should usually be seen as a sign of integrity.
What do I mean by that? I mean that often people question because they feel it is important for them to honestly be able to say that they know. And if they don't feel that they do INSIDE the Church, I don't see a problem with them searching OUTSIDE of it, as people with great integrity are wont to do. In fact I celebrate such people expanding their search. Regardless of whether that search eventually brings them back to the Church or not.