Demystifying Mormonism (Latter Day Saints) – In My Own Words

LDS bamboo french terry background

 

The church of Jesus Christ of Ladder Day Saints is one of the most misunderstood churches in the world.  People talk and talk – and in general, they don’t know what they are talking about.

I guest posted at All Done Monkey where I talked about how I parent my 3 children and teach them to be faithful in our religiously blended family.  Here, I want to begin to demystify the Mormonism in my own words.

 

Misunderstood Concepts

  1. First and foremost.  Mormon is a slang term for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Actually, we are Latter Day Saints – rather than Mormons.  I try not to use the term “Mormon” but it seemed very appropriate in this case.
  2. Latter Day Saints DO BELIEVE in Jesus Christ.  This is a big one.  Latter Day Saints are Christian.  Jesus Christ is in our name.  There is some uniqueness to our belief system (see below) but we are all about following in the steps of Jesus Christ – trying to be more like him in service, acts, love, and acceptance.  We believe in the God head (Heavenly Father, his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost).  We believe that Jesus died on the cross, and was resurrected.
  3. Mormons DO NOT HATE African-Americans.  Joseph Smith – the first president of the restored church accepted  and welcome African-American parishioners.  African-American men were not allowed to hold the Priesthood (meaning they could not hold higher church office).  Early African-American saints  could not perform baptisms, they could not give blessings, and they could not pass sacrament.  We have to put this rule in the perspective of history.  During the late 1800’s and 1900’s African Americas were first slaves, then had to exist under very strict, and unequal Jim Crowe.  During that time, they were discriminated against, murdered, beaten, ridiculed and disliked because of the color of their skin.  They could not walk on the same side of the street as a white person.  They were not even allowed to go to school with Caucasian students.  Little Emmit Till was lynched for looking at a Caucasian woman at a store.  If an African-American male were bestowed the Priesthood (at the time) and went to give a blessing to a sick Caucasian woman in her bedroom – not only would he be lynched, but the higher leaders would be killed – and the church would crumble.  Revelation was handed down in 1978 that allowed African-Americans men  the priesthood.  By that time, lots of events that needed to happen – to prepare this country – happened.   Brown Vs. The Board of Education had happened.  The Civil Rights Act was signed into law by Johnson, the March on Washington had happened.   This topic brings me to #3.
  4. Yes, there are African-American members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  There are members of every and all groups.  The number of “minority” groups within the church is on the rise, and growing rapidly.  African-American men hold the priesthood, as well as Hispanic men, Asian men, and any other type of man you can think of.
  5. We DO NOT HATE GAYS.  Most of the Church members view homosexuality similarly to other churches.  It is bible based.  Latter Day Saints do not hate Homosexuals.  Period.  We love everybody and respect everyone.  Homosexuals cannot be called to church offices, but they are welcome to attend services.
  6. We ARE NOT polygamous.  In the early days of the reformed church, the early saints were polygamous.  Polygamy has basis in the Old Testament with Rachel, Rebecca and Issac – among others.  At the turn of the century, revelation was handed down to stop the practice.  Some members of the church were outraged, and broke off from the mainstream Church.  So, you have two sects.  One, the fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and two, the Mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints.  I belong to the mainstream church.  No one in our church lives a polygamist lifestyle.  Sheesh.  Okay.
  7. We do not live in a patriarchal society.  Men and women hold different offices in the church – both which are equal and important.  Men hold the Priesthood, and women get the priesthood through their husbands.  Women hold very high offices as men hold very high offices.  Men and women work together in harmony – equal – and together.

 

The Basic Principles of the Church that are Unique

  • The Family Proclamation – a proclamation to the family that guides us on how to be successful in our families.  It covers things like – how to treat your spouse, how to treat your children and the roles of each member of the family.  It’s purpose is to keep families strong.

 

  • The Fall of Adam – Latter Day Saints believe that the fall of Adam was no mistake, but part of God’s Plan.  If Eve hadn’t partaken in the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve would have remained in the Garden of Eden.  They would be innocent, they would never had babies, they would not know pain, they would not know work.  They had limited choices.  The fall – in its beauty bestowed upon them through agency brought physical death, work, agency and the ability to parent.  Here is a scripture reference for this belief.

 

The Fall

 

  • The Word of Wisdom – the revelation that tells us how to take care of our health.  I’m not sure anyone knows the logic behind coffee.  It’s not caffeine as chocolate is okay.  Sometimes things are not revealed until the right time.
    • Do not drink alcohol
    • Do not drink coffee
    • Do not drink tea (black tea leaves not herbal tea)
    • Exercise regularly – you will see a gym in every single meeting-house
    • Eat beef and pork sparingly
    • Don’t take illegal drugs.

     

  • The Law of Chastity.  This is pretty self-explanatory.  It addresses sex before marriage, sex outside your marriage, and  pornography.  It’s pretty straight forward – no black and white.  To me, this is just normal stuff – although maybe not what society sees as normal.

 

  • The Plan of Salvation – There is a premortal existence (where all the spirit children exist), then the mortal existence (spirit children get bodies and come to earth).   This is where we are now.  The next stage is death, where there is a physical separation of body and spirit.  The body is interred into the ground, and the spirit goes onto the spirit world.  We believe that everyone will be resurrected.

 

  • Through revelation, additional scriptures were found, and work with the Bible to give us a more complete gospel picture.  The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price – make up these additional scripture.

 

  • Organization – the church is organized in a variety of branches.  Each branch has its own council (president and councilors)

Relief Society (the largest women’s organization in the world).

The Priesthood (the Men’s organization)

The Primary (Governs teaching of the children)

  • The church set up is set up.

  MormonChurch_920_01MormonChurch_920_21bMormonChurch_920_22MormonChurch_920_23Reference

Key

Wards – local congregations.  There are ward boundaries, and anyone within the boundaries attends church at that particular meetinghouse.  I liken it to public schools.  A particular school has boundaries, and all kids within the boundary attends that school.

Bishops – Each ward has a Bishop.  He is the counselor.  He receives revelation for all of his ward members.  The Bishop has 2 councilors that make up the Bishopric.

StakeMany wards in a particular area make up stakes.  The Stake president can receive revelation over all the members of the stake.

NOTE:  There are no election to church offices.   Offices are bestowed in callings (i.e. The Bishop was called to be a Bishop).  All callings are determined through revelation.  Bishops are in charge of their church members (local callings).  Offices at the Stake level are made by the Stake President who can receive revelation for all stake members.  Nobody is paid for their calling.  Some callings are more difficult than others.  Everything anybody does in the church is volunteer – up to the Prophet.

What I hope you take from this is the knowledge that Latter Day Saints are not weird, we do not belong to a Cult, There is organization, we do not hate African-Americans or Gays, we have Christian beliefs.   We perform service to our church members, to our families and to our communities – as service is one of the central themes.

Service scripture

 

Any and all questions are welcome.  I know I have just glanced over everything.  If I don’t know the answer, I will be happy to find out.

Lisa
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About Lisa

Hey! Thank you so much for stopping by. I'm Lisa - a homeschool mom of 3 (2 boys and 1 girl). I care about the strength of the family in America, and often blog about babies/kids, natural parenting, homeschool, and marriage. Before you leave, please sign up for my monthly newsletter (on the top right). If you do, you will be well rewarded with notification of all giveaways and sales - which will not be announced on the blog. Google+ Profile

Comments

  1. I’ve never seen that hierarchy image before, I like it! And you’ve hit everything spot-on 🙂 I just think it’s interesting how a growing number of women in the church are starting to believe #7 and are campaigning for women to have the priesthood. That’s not how it works, ladies. That’s not how it works.
    Ashley Kelly recently posted…Weekly Wishes 8.26My Profile

    • Hey Ashley,

      I shouldn’t be surprised, should I? Man does the best he can. Some women are so concerned with doing everything – that they miss the bigger picture – entirely. Man and woman – in their perfect design have different talents – that work together beautifully. With a divorce rate of over 50% in this country, I am astounded nobody has stopped and asked – why?

      Thank you so much for your lovely comments! I hope you have a wonderful week!
      Lisa recently posted…Demystifying Mormonism (Latter Day Saints) – In My Own WordsMy Profile

  2. love that you explained your beliefs. I am a Catholic …while I don’t agree with everything the church does or believes in I do love my faith and raising Dino to believe as well. I love learning about other faiths…while all follow different regions or sects, we all believe and that is a wonderful thing.
    karen recently posted…MANNER-MAN TO THE RESCUE – GIVEAWAYMy Profile

  3. The African American men not being able to hold priesthood during in relationship with history- kind of the point I am trying to make about Mark Twain in my upcoming Sew Many Books post. His books get a lot of judgment because it was set during a time when racial slurs were everyday language. I hate how books, religions, and people get judged as a whole for the past…a past they didn’t live in. However I’m glad you wrote about it, because ignoring the past doesn’t fix a thing. I wasn’t aware of the racial or homophobic stereotypes for the church, but I do think a lot of churches get a reputation for homophobia. Some of them deserving, others not at all. I’m pretty sure Jesus would never have shunned or hated someone from a different race, religion, or sexuality. In fact he was known for witnessing to social outcasts, and befriended them.

    People get confused and don’t realize there are scriptures that were added into the bible later, scriptures that have been removed, and scripture that has changed in meaning due to translation. Also, the New Testament wasn’t one book. It’s pieces of many different works found in different parts of the world. Some had many copies, and some there was only one or two. Man decided which works were biblical scripture. I’m very curious about the other books and their origin. I’ve also been meaning to find out about the prophet (I know nothing or if he should be capitalized, I’m sorry!) because I like to study all Chrisian religions. I usually find that the more I know about all religions, the easier it is for me to understand my relationship with God.

    Anyways, thanks for this post, it was very informative and interesting. I feel like I know a lot more about the religion.my husband has tried to explain it to me here and there, but never in this detail.
    Amy mayen recently posted…Tinny Tunic & Ruffle PantsMy Profile

    • WOW WOW…WOW. What a fantastic comment! Everything you said is just so right on, Amy. Yes, you really have to put everything in perspective – in the time that it was written in. You are absolutely right. Think about Tom and Jerry and The two feet character. Racist, however, during the time it was made, it was accepted. Spot on!

      You are right when you said scripture was lost, and changed during time. Yes….so so so so true. I could talk to you all about it!

      Thank you so much for your comments. You are awesome!
      Lisa recently posted…Demystifying Mormonism (Latter Day Saints) – In My Own WordsMy Profile

    • Replying to say the issue of homosexuality has been the most difficult for me. You are right, Jesus loved everybody equally. That’s where the fall comes into place (in my opinion). Man is imperfect. The rules we abide by are man-made rules. I think man does the best he can, but cannot see the big picture. People out there demonstrating and such is silly (to me). Even when Jesus caught the woman having an affair, he was kind, said all was forgiven and allowed her to go home. I think he said something like – only those who have never sinned can cast the first stone!

      Brilliant and inspired words.
      Lisa recently posted…Demystifying Mormonism (Latter Day Saints) – In My Own WordsMy Profile

  4. Brilliant piece, Lisa! So important for us to get real information about other religions and churches, rather than just making assumptions. I had the fortune to visit the center in Salt Lake City when I was in college, and I was shocked to see how diverse and international the people were there. I definitely had the misconception that the LDS church was pretty much all white. And I have heard many people say that they don’t think Mormons are Christians – always surprises me that people think this!
    Leanna recently posted…Making Compromises (Or Not) in a Religiously Blended Family: Post from The Squishable Baby {Parenting and Faith}My Profile

    • Hey Leanna,

      Thank you! Yes, rumors are scary, especially the ones that I’ve heard about the church. These are not kids, they are grown people. I am always willing and open to answer questions. I like to have intellectual conversations. You would not believe some of the conversations I’ve had.

      Sheesh.

      Mormons not being Christians is a big one.

      Sigh.

      Thanks so much for your comment and for stopping by.
      Lisa recently posted…Demystifying Mormonism (Latter Day Saints) – In My Own WordsMy Profile

  5. Loved this! I love being able to read about other peoples’ beliefs. I feel like it lets me get to know them on a more personal level. I have heard all of those things about LDS but I tried not to buy into those rumors because I didn’t know for myself for sure. I don’t actually personally know any LDS’s. The majority of the people around me are Pentecostal or Southern Baptist. Thank you for posting this. I definitely enjoyed reading! 🙂
    Tiffany recently posted…Wanted: Blog Hop Co-Hosts!My Profile

  6. Lisa, this was very interesting to read about- I learn something new every time!
    kelly thompson recently posted…Journal for your marriageMy Profile

  7. Lisa thank you for sharing your faith. It’s just another peek into your life that we get to see.
    I found your scripture references interesting, as the chapter names are not in my Bible. Yes all scripture was hand written by men, however I firmly agree with Timothy that all scripture is God-breathed and usefule for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training….. I also so liked the interjection of history as to why African Americans were not able to hold office (interesting, not something you hear everyday).
    Tati recently posted…Lonely is…{in the Large Family}My Profile

    • Hey Tati,

      I think we need to put much of everything into the perspective of history. There is a rhyme and reason for everything. I firmly believe that things don’t happen by accident – happenstance. No no no. There is a specific well thought out plan. I just look out my window and see it. How can everything work so beautifully together. It’s amazing.

      Thanks so much for stopping by. I so love your insight.
      Lisa recently posted…Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop Week 36My Profile

      • Yes Lisa I agree when you say we must put everything into a historical perspective. Honestly, I’ve been learning this new concept for a couple of years now as I teach my homeschoolers. Basically, I’m learning along side them. We have to learn it in hopes of pen pointing where the down falls accrued so that we have a chance of not letting history repeat itself.
        Tati recently posted…Call to Action for All MissionariesMy Profile

      • Very very nice, Tati! You said a mouth full there. You hit the nail right on the head. You have to know , recognize and accept as that it doesn’t repeat itself.

        You are brilliant, you know that, right?

        Thanks so much for stopping by!
        Lisa recently posted…Crock Pot Greens RecipeMy Profile

  8. Lisa,
    Thank you so much for writing this piece. i have read some autobiographies written by LDS but they are often disgruntled with their experience. This is extremely clear and informative. What resonates most for me about your post and others’ comments ,is how much we all have to gain from having our own faith, code of ethics and/or religious beliefs. My Jewish faith certainly ground me in a community and framework for living.We may not all believe in the same things but we believe in something that gives us purpose, direction and comfort.
    Bursting the myth bubble is so important. Ignorance really does breed contempt. You have done a great job giving us facts and helping us understand your beliefs within this context.
    Thanks
    Gilly
    Gilly Cannon recently posted…Words of Wisdom For Our College Bound Children (and Kindergardeners)My Profile

    • Hey Gilly,

      Yeah, it’s much easier to get books published when the author is bitter. It’s more of a money maker – you know. I think we are drawn to negative things – generally. The daily news is evidence of that. If someone was positive, it wouldn’t be interesting, would it? Who wants to talk about people who are good? Plus, we must perpetuate the ignorance and hate.

      I am glad that you enjoyed it. There are so many stereotypes. Plus, I had written the other piece as a guest post, and I thought it would be good to have something true to refer to – rather than looking things up on the internet – you know? I think it would be better to have it come from someone who knows what they are talking about – at least a bit. I still have a lot to learn – that’s for sure.

      Thanks so much for stopping by! I always love seeing you here.
      Lisa recently posted…Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop Week 36My Profile

  9. As a Catholic, I completely understand about having to “defend” your religion. I’ve come across plenty of people who have very wrong ideas about what Catholicism is.
    My brother converted to LDS almost 20 years ago, then ended up marrying an LDS woman several years later. I have learned so much about it since then, of course. We’ve been to the wedding, the baptisms of their children, their Sunday services, when my brother talks. I’m glad you are getting the info out there. Is it different than our religion? Yes. Does it mean we can’t learn from each other in order to become closer to Jesus? Not in the least.
    Have a lovely day!
    christine recently posted…I’m Going Back to M&MsMy Profile

  10. Very Interesting Lisa. The emphasis on family is great. I was raise Catholic and have my daughter in religious education but honestly I struggle with lots of doubts. I just try and take in the good.
    Ann recently posted…Junior EngineerMy Profile

    • Hey Ann,

      Yeah, doubts will always be there. I think it’s part of being human. At first, I thought very faithful people never had doubts. It’s not true. Personally, I think doubting is about having faith. They go hand and hand. Doubts show that you are thinking about things (as much as the mortal brain can). We cannot possibly understand everything. If everything was reveled, we would certainly mess it up. It’s our nature as humans. The plan is perfect in it’s construction and that’s why we have doubts.

      Faith is about believing things that are not seen. What can you do?

      There are very few things about the church that I had to really pray about. The major thing was homosexuality. As a wedding planner, I have helped gay couples to marry. I don’t see myself planning another wedding, but if I do, I wouldn’t hesitate to plan another Gay or Lesbian wedding. Actually, those were my favorite weddings to plan. They are so much fun to work with! I have many gay friends. I do not feel like the devil influenced them. I do support gay marriage and I do support the civil rights for everyone (equal treatment). I do not like the idea that they are shunned by many churches, and I certainly wouldn’t go out and protest against civil rights for anyone. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing, I don’t know. I just continue to pray about it.
      Lisa recently posted…Recipe – 6 Layer Mexican Dip With Fresh GuacamoleMy Profile

  11. Thank you Lisa for writing this post. I have to answer questions about “mormonism” -only member in my family- and even if they know we are Christians, I still have the “but homosexuals are forbidden to go to a service, no?” or “I don’t see why priesthood should only be for men. As if women were not honorables enough…” and so on.
    I love the quote (from who know who????): “Women shouldn’t want to be equal with men because they are already far better” I kinda like to apply it to Priesthood. Women have so many things to do and think about in their life, and also to fight for, they don’t need it to be a force to be reckon with in the eyes of God! Because frankly, who reminds the hubby that a blessing to the sick child could be a good idea, hum? 😉
    I’m going now to read other articles from your blog. I think I will be “at home” here.
    In sisterly love, Eolia
    Eolia Disler recently posted…My son goes to the Primary [Faith Celebration Blog Hop]My Profile

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