Saturday, July 17, 2010

What's Different About a Mormon?

I think the most common issues around Mormons are misconceptions and misunderstandings. It's a very peculiar thing. I can't tell you how many questions I get that make me scratch my head and say, "Wow. Where did you hear something like THAT?" 

First, Mormons are not really Mormons. I mean, the term "Mormon" came about as a rather negative nickname from a group of people in the early 1800s who acted as persecutors to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When they called you a "Mormon," they said it the same way a racist would say the horrible "N" word to describe those with African American ancestry. It was not positive AT ALL. After almost two centuries of that nickname running around, I guess it's a way to help people know who you are, since nobody seems to know the proper name, despite the fact that it is a world-wide religion recognized in almost every country. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints consists of almost 14 million members, the majority of whom live outside of the United States, so while Utah is often identified as its central point, this truly is an International organization. 

Our physical structures consist of office buildings for administrative purposes, historical sites and visitors centers where anyone may ask questions and learn about the Church, the nationally recognized and largest Family History Library, meetinghouses, which are used for Sabbath-day worship, and temples. I think temples draw the most attention of all. You have to hold a recommend to enter one of these buildings, stating you are worthy, so even if you are a member of the Church you may not enter without this recommend. Anyone may hold a temple recommend, but must first live very high standards, helping maintain the sacredness of these buildings. 

Prior to dedicating these temples for worshiping the Lord, anyone may tour them, no matter your faith, age, or worthiness. Next to the temple, we feel that our homes are the most sacred places, because this is where you raise children and families are VERY important to us! In fact, you might be aware that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with several other religious groups, have taken a stand that marriage is between a man and a woman. We aren't ashamed of that fact. Even President Obama stands for that. Even though this perspective  will never change, all people on the earth are sons and daughters of God and deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. (There, the elephant in the room has been addressed).

For some strange reason, "Mormons" are often confused with Amish people or a group of individuals who practice polygamy and live in large compounds in Utah, Arizona and other areas. Anyone who practices polygamy is not a practicing "Mormon." 

"Mormons" do dress and eat differently. While nobody is perfect, and we have the freedom to choose how we will live, those who abide by the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as taught in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may often stand out from your everyday person in the following ways:

Clothing: Modest clothing, with shorts and skirts going to the knee, shirts that don't expose cleavage or middriffs, and that have at least a cap sleeve, clothing that is not skin-tight. Swim or exercise wear is usually one-piece or reasonably modest for the event.

Food: Avoiding foods or drinks that have addictive properties, including coffee, green or black teas, alcohol, and drugs; eating fresh fruits, veggies and grains when available, eating meat sparingly.

Language: Clean language without vulgarity and profanity, avoiding gossip and backbiting.

Families: In favor of large families because children are such a blessing, but also respecting that  family decisions belong to a family. 

Moral values: Keeping sexual activities within marriage (Abstinence)

Bodies: Our bodies are sacred, so we are taught not to cover them in tattoos (although some join the Church after they obtained them), body piercings (other than earrings on women), or similar activities.

Music: Music that uplifts, is not vulgar or crude.

There is this little pamphlet called "For the Strength of Youth." It basically covers those high standards you would need to live by in order to be worthy to enter the Temple. Even though it is for youth, adults are also taught to live the same standards. 

We take bread and water each week to remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but you will probably not find any crosses in our meetinghouses or temples and here is why: we worship Jesus Christ and he still lives! 

The real focus of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is this: 
1. We are all sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. We each have bodies that consist of a spirit and a physical body. When we die, we will temporarily be separated from our physical bodies, but because Jesus Christ, the Son of God died willingly for us, he broke the bonds of death so that we all will someday be resurrected like Jesus Christ was (our physical bodies and spirits will be reunited again forever). Everyone will be resurrected and have eternal life, no matter what.

2. We need to build a relationship with Heavenly Father while we are living on the earth. We will be rewarded during our eternal life according to how we live our lives today. Our spirits lived with Heavenly Father before we received our physical bodies, and we want to live with him again!  No unclean thing or person may live in God's presence, and there was only one perfect being who ever lived on the earth: Jesus Christ. Because he willingly suffered for our sins, we may be clean, but we must be willing to live our lives the best we are able and follow Christ's example and teachings and accept his atonement for our sins. We do this by repenting and praying to our Father in the name of Jesus Christ. Only those who follow Jesus Christ's teachings will be able to live in Heavenly Father's presence again.

There is much more, but everything else we teach in our Church centers around these two focal points. It's what we teach at Church, in our temples, and in our homes. Oddly, there are still some who say we are not Christians. 

Well, I hope you don't mind me taking the time to share a little more. "Mormons" you may know by name include: Steve Young (SF 49ers), Donny and Marie Osmond, Julianne and Derek Hough (DWTS), David Archuleta, Alex Boyé, producer Jerry Molen, reporter Jane Clayson, talk show host Glenn Beck, country singers SheDaisy, Gladys Knight, Marvin Goldstein, the Jets, Chelsea Hightower (DWTS), Lacey Schwimmer (DWTS), Ali Vincent (Biggest Loser winner), Ken Jennings (Jeopardy winner), Danny Ainge (baseball), John Huntsman (China Ambassador), Steven R. Covey, Stephenie Meyer (Twilight), Mitt Romney, J.W. Marriott (hotels), Mike Leavitt (U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services), and the list goes on and on... 

Interesting side-note, since I adore her acting: Amy Adams (Enchanted) was raised as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but I don't believe she continued to be involved after age 11 due to some family circumstances. 

Questions? Ask us, or go here to chat. Always feel free to ask...

1 comment:

  1. I never knew so much about mormons before, enlightening post, thanks!


You may also want to read:

Related Posts with Thumbnails