I am a Mormon. The actual name of my church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day saints, often abbreviated to “LDS.” Members of my church are referred to as “saints,” or, more commonly, “Mormons.”
When I started blogging on religious topics, I wondered if I should write from a Mormon perspective or keep it more generally Christian. I started with the latter, but today I decided to write frankly about my religion. I’m not trying to proselytize; I’m just sharing my opinions like I usually do.
Mormons are neither Catholic nor Protestant. The church was formally organized on April 6, 1830, by the founder and prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. We believe our church to be the same gospel Jesus taught to his disciples when he lived on the earth, restored in the latter days.
It’s politically incorrect to make jokes about ethnic minorities and gays, but Mormons are still acceptable targets. I try not to take offense at Mormon jokes and slurs, but I’m human, just like everyone else. I do become a bit touchy when someone says Mormons “aren’t Christian.” It also bothers me when someone who clearly hasn’t studied our doctrine tries to tell others about “what Mormons believe.”
Of course, I’ve heard about the Broadway musical The Book of Mormon. The actual Book of Mormon is a book of scripture sacred to us (more about that later). I haven’t seen the musical or heard any of the music, but I’ve heard a little about it. From what I’ve gathered, it depicts Mormons as being naive and having some pretty kooky ideas, but generally nice people. That also, from my own experience, seems to be the impression people have of Mormons in general.
Oh well, it could be worse.
We believe a lot of the same basic stuff as other Christians. The Bible is the word of God, God created the Earth, and Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, necessitating a Savior. Jesus Christ is that savior, and his Atonement enables us to repent of our sins and return to God. We’re supposed to keep God’s commandments and do our best to be good and charitable people.
So there’s a lot of common ground.
We also have a lot of beliefs that make us very different from many other Christians.
I’ll start with the most obvious one: the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is a record of the ancient peoples of the Americas, the Native Americans. These records were written on golden plates and given to Joseph Smith, who translated them. We believe that the Book of Mormon gives us a more complete understanding of God’s commandments.
The Bible is still very important to us. We use the King James Version. The Book of Mormon and the Bible are studied together to help us grow closer to God.
The church encourages learning and education, especially on gospel topics. We are to study and pray so we can understand our doctrine and share it with others.
We believe in a living prophet. Just like Moses, Abraham, and Daniel were prophets, so too is Thomas S. Monson, the current president of the LDS church. We believe he has the same power from God that Moses did. We call that power the priesthood.
Children are baptized at the age of eight, which we call “the age of accountability.” Basically, at that point, children are considered old enough to take responsibility for their actions, thus necessitating repentance for sins. Before that, children don’t need baptism, for they are perfect and are not capable of sin. Of course, you can be baptized after age eight; that’s just the minimum age requirement.
Baptism is by immersion – we get dunked all the way under water, symbolic of dying and being spiritually reborn.
Family is incredibly important to us. We believe that families can be together forever. Death is not the end of our relationships; we can be with one another in Heaven. Besides serving God, our families should be our top priority. David O. McKay, a former president of the church, said “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.”
To some extent, we believe in following traditional gender roles. Women are to care for their children, and men are to provide for their families. These are just guidelines. Men are to share in caring for the home and the children, and women can certainly work outside of the home to provide for the family’s temporal needs. Husbands and wives are to counsel together when making important decisions.
Women have an active role in the church, though we do not have the priesthood like the men do. We pray and provide music for our services. A woman’s opinion is well respected; we give sermons and teach classes. We organize and participate in service projects. We are beloved daughters of God.
Maybe someone reading this will be interested in learning more about my church. If so, lds.org is the church website and has lots of information. I’m also happy to answer questions if you leave them in the comments.
If you’re not interested, maybe at least my beliefs seem a little less kooky now.