Sept. 29, 1999

James,

By viewing your website at mazeministry.com, I can tell that you are very busy. I appreciate your taking the time to read this letter. I am a Mormon who is really struggling with my beliefs in Mormon doctrine. To be honest, it is very painful that I am having such great doubts about the church, but they exist and I cannot deny them.

I have been doing some studying for some time now, but just recently I came across something that has really affected me. I am a returned missionary and went through the temple in February of 1994. The experience, although it was very weird to me, didn't cause any major doubts. However, it was just recently that I discovered that there were penalties involved until 1990. My heart sunk and my stomach started churning and hasn't stopped since. The nature of the penalties as explained on an informational website truly disgusted me James. Had I been born earlier and gone through when they still existed things would have definitely been different for me that day. I'm numb. I don't know what to do. My whole life revolves around the church, or so it seems.

I know that Jesus is a real person because I have felt his influence, but my entire testimony has ALWAYS come from spiritual experiences that were personal, such as answers to prayers. They have not come, now that I realize it in the temple. James, I know you're busy, but could you just simply give me some ideas, being that you've been a member, on how deal with these overwhelming, contradicting feelings between loyalty and truth while keeping my sanity. I have more things I want to say to somebody but I don't know who to tell. All of my close friends are LDS.

James, something that has bothered me for a very long time is the total impossibility of Lehi's family to multiply into the thousands in such a short time! I am a very faithful person and for a 24-year-old, I feel that I have a good understanding. However, I am starting to come to grips with the "truth" side of truth, not just the "I hope this is true" side. Yes, faith is required, but God gave us all the gift of reason, and it is reason that needs to compliment faith. I simply cannot have faith that Lehi's family populated 3000 times faster than bunnies. Period.

I could go on and make quite a letter about the things I'm concerned about. However, my purpose here James is a humble request for advice. I am not convinced that any church is without fault, so I don't know whether my doubts are just normal. I don't know what to do. I feel numb. If you could write or email I'd really appreciate it. I just want a second opinion other than that of my bishop, I know what he will say.

(Name withheld)