There's a lot of stuff out there about Mormons. Quite frankly, there's a lot of weird stuff. I have read some of the craziest, wildest stuff that Mormons do and it has come as quite a shock to me, being that I've been Mormon my whole life and never remember half the stuff the world says we do. I wrote this post last July about some common Mormon misconceptions. But I feel like that post was very spotty, jumping from subject to subject and not covering any one thing very clearly. So today I want to give you in its purest and simplest form what Mormons believe. My goal is to simplify it completely so that it's easy enough for a child to understand.
I write this with some hesitancy. Mormons have a history of persecution, like any minority group, I suppose. It is scary and vulnerable to put things out on the world wide web that are sacred and special to me. I know some people don't like to talk religion on blogs, but I believe strongly in education, awareness, and an open mind. It is with that attitude that I hope you will read this post.
CHRIST'S CHURCH AND APOSTASY. Mormons believe that when Christ was on the Earth he established a church with his power and authority. After He and His apostles died, no one was left with Christ's authority to run that church. There were a lot of great people trying to follow Christ and live his teachings the best they could, but Christ's authority to have the church wasn't any longer on the Earth. This period of time is known as apostasy.
JOSEPH SMITH. Mormons believe that in 1820 Jesus Christ brought the authority to have his church back. He appeared with God and gave the power and authority to have his church to Joseph Smith. Mormons don't worship Joseph Smith, but we see him as a prophet and a tool used by God to bring Christ's original church back to the Earth.
PROPHETS AND APOSTLES. Mormons believe that this power and authority that was given to Joseph Smith was transferred down prophet to prophet until today. Thomas S. Monson is the current prophet and he holds that power and authority to direct God's church. We believe in having the same organization that existed when Christ lived- that's why we have one prophet and twelve apostles.
BOOK OF MORMON. Mormons believe that when Christ lived there were people living in the Americas. They were inspired by God and wrote down many great truths. They buried all their records and when Joseph Smith was prophet, he was led by God to these records. These records are known as the Book of Mormon. We study this book just like we study the Bible and we believe that both books are the word of God.
NICKNAMES. Mormon is a nickname for church members. Mormon was the last man to write in the Book of Mormon, so he named it after himself. (Well, wouldn't you?!) People started calling us Mormons because they know we read the Book of Mormon. The official church name is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and we sometimes call ourselves LDS for short, but let's face it, "Mormon" is the easiest of all to remember.
REVELATION. Just like God talked to Noah and Moses, God talks to our prophets today. We don't believe that God will only help out his children who lived 10,000 years ago. Some may hear that Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus Christ and immediately question it because it seems too far fetched, but accept with no problem that Moses saw God on a mountain. The only difference is how long ago these two men lived. If God will talk to His children in one time period, why not talk to them in all time periods? The belief that God leads and directs this church is a source of great strength and comfort to me.
TEMPLES. Temples are different from regular churches. In temples we make sacred promises to God and are given promised blessings in return. We believe that God holds us accountable for these promises, so we only make these promises when we fully understand all the doctrine in the gospel and are living accordingly. One of the most important temple promises that God makes to us is that we can be with our family forever- even after this life. Since my dad's death, this is one of the doctrines of the church I have clung most desperately to.
ALCOHOL, COFFEE, DRUGS, ETC. Through modern day revelation, we believe that God has asked us to not use any of these substances because they are not healthy. We say, "Alright. Fair enough."
SEX. We have sex. Just not before marriage, and not with anyone besides our spouse. We believe that this brings happiness and confidence along with strong, concrete families that can provide the kind of support and love that children need.
MISSIONARIES. We believe that we have a message that makes us supremely happy. It brings us tremendous comfort and joy and peace and gives our lives a great sense of purpose. That's why sometimes Mormons can be a bit over anxious about talking about their religion. I know some people have had bad experiences with Mormons trying to "push" their religion on them, but the fact is we've just found a source of great happiness and want others to have it. If you don't want it, that's fine too, and we respect that. Young men and women can choose to dedicate two years when they are 18-25 years old to sharing about the church full time. They usually go far from home and don't see family during that time.
ATONEMENT, PRAYER, AND OTHER CHRISTIAN DOCTRINES. We believe we can talk to God and receive inspiration from Him, just like other Christian religions. We believe that Christ paid for our sins and we are forever indebted to Him. We play in repentance, overcoming weaknesses, and becoming better people. We believe in love and charity and bettering the world around us. We believe that God loves us more than we can ever understand and that we have incredible potential to be happy in and after this life.
See now, that ain't so weird, is it?
P.S. If you want to know more, this is the Mormon official website. Of course, I can have a free Book of Mormon or a strapping pair of young missionaries at your door in no time. Just say the word, my friends.
P.S. If you're Mormon (or even if you're not!) I would love you to share this post in any way possible. Knowledge is power!