Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I Am a Mormon.

Most of you know me personally. If you don't know me personally, then you might have inferred it from my writing. I have very openly shared some very personal material on this blog. I have shared my opinions on issues that are very sensitive. I have stated that I am a Mormon, and have referenced it several times in my work. Still, I want to dedicate a post to clarifying a few misconceptions that the world has about my faith, including a few of my friends, which surprises me. If you ever have a question about my church, ask me. Please don't feel the need to go to books written by "ex-Mormons" or scholars of religion or ministers of other faiths. Ask me. I know what I believe, and you won't offend me. Trust me, I've already been called a lot of terrible things because of my beliefs. I want to address these claims one at a time.

I am a Mormon, and I am a Christian.
The name of my church isn't "The Mormon Church," as many would believe. It is "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." When we refer to our community or beliefs, we don't say the "Mormon community" or "Mormon doctrine." We say the "LDS community" or "LDS doctrine." So, if you want to sound educated, refer to us as the "Latter Day Saints (LDS)." Actually, if you could do that for me, that'd be awesome. The name "mormons" comes from the title of one of our books of scripture, The Book of Mormon. Mormon was the prophet and historian who complied the books into one book.

Okay, to address the actual statement, as you can hopefully tell from the name of my church, I am a Christian. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came to earth to show us the way to live by example. I believe that Jesus Christ lived a perfect life and died for the sins of the world. I believe that this Atonement is infinite, and applies to all who have ever lived and will ever live. I believe that he is my Savior and Redeemer. I know this with all my heart. When I am then told that I'm not a "real Christian," it is very hurtful, especially when it comes from other Christians. What exactly is a "real Christian?" I thought it was a follower of Christ. If I believe that Christ is my Savior, and I try to live as he lived, how am I not a Christian? I know I am, and God knows I am, and that's all that really matters.

I am a Mormon, and I believe in the Bible.
Yes, I read the Bible. I read the King James Version of the Old and New Testaments. I believe that they are "the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly" (Article of Faith 8), and contain doctrines and principles to live my life by. I also believe in The Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ. I believe that they are the 'sticks' written about in Ezekiel 37:15-17. "The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying, Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand." That the Bible and Book of Mormon are a fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy.

                 What is the Book of Mormon about?
                 The Book of Mormon isn't a secret - pick up a copy and read it! It is a history of those who lived in the Americas, and the work of the Lord and his prophets here. God loves all His children, and the Book of Mormon proves that. It gives an account of when Jesus Christ visited the people of the Americas after his resurrection. The Book of Mormon is filled with stories of faith, trials, miracles, hope, war, redemption, and grace experienced by real people. It's awesome.

There is a verse at the very end of the BoM that sums up the key point of the book. It says: "Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God." The Book of Mormon is an invitation to us to come unto Christ and be saved by his Atonement.

I am a Mormon, not a polygamist.
Okay, for the record, I have one mom and one dad. We clear? Awesome. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints did at one time have polygamy. It was not every man who had multiple wives, and it wasn't anyone who wanted more ladies around. Just like in the Old Testament, the principle had be reinstated for the time. It is the 1840s, and my people were being hunted down and killed. They were forced out of not one, not two, but THREE states, and eventually left the United States to seek refuge. (Did you know that Missouri had an "extermination order?" Until the 1970s, Mormons could be shot for simply being in Missouri.) There were widows and unmarried women who could not have gotten to Utah on their own financially or physically. That is when the practice was restored. It lasted for a period, but was officially ended in 1890 by the president of our church, Wilford Woodruff.

"I, therefore, as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do hereby, in the most solemn manner, declare that these charges are false. We are not teaching polygamy or plural marriage, nor permitting any person to enter into its practice..."

If any current member of the LDS church enters into plural marriage, they are excommunicated, or removed from full membership. The people on Sister Wives and in compounds in Texas are not members of my faith, and I find it just as odd as you do.

I am a Mormon, not a racist.
When people try to tell me that my church is racist, I can't help but laugh. If you came to my congregation on Sunday, you would find a group of 375+ people of every color under the sun. We have members who speak Spanish, Finnish, Japanese, Samoan, French, ASL, Portuguese, Mandarin, and more. Just in my age group of girls (16-18), we have girls of African, Native American, European, Asian, and South American descent (Still need someone from Australia, I'll give you that much). We have church leaders from all over the world. It is true that there was racism in the church up until the 1970s, but there was racism everywhere. If you talk to any LDS person, they will tell you that although the Gospel is perfect, the people are not. That is why we have a Savior! I am grateful to belong to a church where everyone is treated the same - no matter where they came from.

A side note: We actually just established our 3000th "stake," or regional leadership over multiple congregations in the world. Guess where it was - Sierra Leone.

I am a Mormon, not a sexist.
I have never felt discriminated against or held back by my faith or my church. Ever. Nothing the prophets have said has ever made me cringe. Ever. Quite the contrary, I feel empowered by the knowledge that my faith gives me. I know I am a daughter of God and that He loves me. I have been encouraged by prophets to get the best education I can, to develop my talents, to serve as much as possible, and to prepare to receive the blessings that God has in store for me. I realize that I have the sacred power of motherhood, and that with the power to create life comes great responsibility. Women are revered as "crowning creations" and that the "errand of angels" has been entrusted to them.

Here are two 3 minute videos about women from church leaders that I love:
The Women in Our Lives
Motherhood: An Eternal Partnership with God

I am a Mormon, not a member of a cult.
Some people think that Latter Day Saints are secretive, strange, and even devil-worshippers. Let me lay these thoughts to rest. We are not secretive - have you ever had LDS missionaries knock on your door and say "We are missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but we can't tell you anything about our faith." No, of course not! "The temple", you may say, "why can't I go in then?" What we do in the temple isn't secret, it's sacred. I have been in the temple, and I promise you that there is no animal sacrifice, demon-worship, or baptism of dead bodies. What happens are marriages and other ordinances done vicariously - or in the place of - those who have died. We believe, like many other Christian religions, that one must be baptized to enter Heaven. We perform work for the dead in our temples like the members of the early Christian church did (1 Cor. 15:29).

If you are curious about the temple, check out www.mormon.org.

I am a teenager, a writer, and I am a Mormon.
Thanks for getting this far. I hope I answered some questions you may have had. If you have more that I didn't address, look at mormon.org (link above) or www.lds.org. If you want to talk to the missionaries for further discussion, there is a number you can call on mormon.org. If you have any questions, ask me! I am more than willing to talk.

Just in closing, I want to say that I know my faith is real. I know that God exists and that He loves me. I know that Jesus Christ is my savior. I am so thankful for that knowledge and for their presence in my life.

S

No comments:

Post a Comment