In case you haven’t noticed by now, I’ve been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon is not the official name of the church, but it’s the one most people are familiar with) since 2007. Yep, I’m a Mormon! Woohoo!
In honor of the release of the awesome new movie Meet the Mormons this weekend, I’m teaming up with some other fabulous bloggers to tell our unique stories about what the church means to us. While I always love telling the story of my conversion, I thought today I would do something a little bit different and talk about some of the weird things people have heard about us and why they should no longer prevent you from thinking we’re cool. =)
UPDATE: I no longer blog about personal stuff like this here– I’m using this blog as a home for content about my marketing consulting practice– but I SO appreciate those of who who’ve read this and want to connect with me. The best place to do that on a personal level is in my Facebook group, the NerdyGirl Mastermind. Hope to see you there! –BB
As a convert, I still remember how freaked out people were when I told them that I was making this change in my life. They came at me with all kinds of questions and accusations of the church, reasons why they felt I should be scared of the church and all its “secrets”. Now having been a member of this church for 7+ years, I can unequivocally dispel a few of those rumors, and that’s what I’d like to do here today.
1. We Don’t Think You’re Going to Hell
It’s true, we do believe that our church is the only one that has the whole truth. Most churches do. Otherwise what’s the point of organizing a church at all, am I right? But unlike many other churches, we don’t think that means that everyone who doesn’t believe the things we do is going to spend eternity in Hell.
This is one of my very favorite elements of the LDS church, actually. Our view of heaven is one of the most inclusive, merciful concepts of the afterlife I’ve ever come across. To learn why, read this. It’s the most complete breakdown of our views on heaven that I was able to find.
2. We Don’t Practice Polygamy
The following is taken from Mormon.org and says it better than I could:
President Gordon B. Hinckley, prior president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made the following statement in 1998 about the Church’s position on plural marriage:
“This Church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing polygamy. They are not members of this Church…. If any of our members are found to be practicing plural marriage, they are excommunicated, the most serious penalty the Church can impose. Not only are those so involved in direct violation of the civil law, they are in violation of the law of this Church.”
At various times, the Lord has commanded His people to practice plural marriage. For example, He gave this command to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and Solomon (Doctrine and Covenants 132:1). At other times the Lord has given other instructions. In the Book of Mormon, the Lord told the prophet Jacob “for there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife: and concubines he shall have none… for if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things (Jacob 2:27-30).
In this dispensation, the Lord commanded some of the early Saints to practice plural marriage. The Prophet Joseph Smith and those closest to him, including Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball, were challenged by this command, but they obeyed it. In 1890, President Wilford Woodruff received a revelation that the leaders of the Church should cease teaching the practice of plural marriage (Official Declaration 1).
The Lord’s law of marriage is monogamy unless he commands otherwise to help establish the House of Israel (see Encyclopedia of Mormonism Vol. 3, pp. 1091-1095).
Want to learn more about this subject? Read what other church members are saying about it.
3. We Don’t Hate Gay People
I won’t lie to you, our church is firm about gender as it relates to marriage. Most bible-based churches are. But no church I would ever go to could ever condone cruel or hateful behavior toward any individual or group!
I have nothing but love for the LGBT individuals I know and have known, and I know for a fact that the vast majority of my peers in the church feel the same way.
The following was taken from a recent talk given by one of our church leaders about standing firm in our convictions while simultaneously showing love to those who do not share them. It was directed at the youth of the church, but can easily be extended to all of us.
You can visit LDS.org for more information on what Mormons believe about those who are gay or you can watch interviews and videos from Church leaders and members about same-sex attraction as it relates to individuals and their family members at the website MormonsAndGays.org
4. The Church Is Not Anti-Feminist
This was a big assumption I faced when I was joining the church. I’m all about the girl power, people, and I don’t think I ever could have become a part of something that made me feel inferior because of my gender.
I’ve said this before but it bears repeating, I know of no other faith community that so values womanhood than the LDS church. One trend in feminist culture is to assume that in order to be treated equally we must assume no difference in the sexes, which even before I joined this church, seemed a bit silly to me.
It’s okay to be different! In fact, it’s wonderful to be different! I have never felt undervalued as a Mormon, and while there are a very vocal few who do, they do not represent the general feeling of the LDS population. Here are some links to some more information on what Mormons believe about women in the church, gender equality and why don’t women hold the priesthood.
5. We Don’t Do the Weird Stuff You Think We Do.
Let me dispel a few “Mormon myths” I’ve heard.
We don’t sacrifice animals, we don’t have horns, we don’t think playing cards are the devil, we don’t shun dancing like they did in Footloose, we don’t do anything remotely sexual in temples or any religious ceremonies, and we don’t sit behind closed doors plotting world domination.
Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments!
6. We Don’t Think We’re Getting a Planet
Despite what you might have heard on 30 Rock, in the seven years I have been attending 12+ hours of church/temple each month, there has never once been a mention of “getting” my own personal “planet” after I die.
That would be cool, though. I would call it Britannannia.
I’m making up my hypothetical planetary anthem right now. It is glorious. How would yours go? tweet
I digress. The point is, the extent to which we talk about what we’ll be doing in the afterlife is to discuss the fact that it’s not just a bunch of clouds and harps. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pretty boring way to spend eternity! Our concept of heaven simply involves progress, creation and “that same sociality which exists among us here” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:2) meaning family and friends. We don’t spend much time on the details of exactly what that all looks like because 1) we don’t know for sure and 2) what we’re doing now is more important. For more detail on what Mormons believe about eternal progression and becoming like our Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ, you can read the chapter about Exaltation in the book Gospel Principles
For more of my thoughts on the subject of eternal progression, read this follow-up post.
7. We Aren’t Trying to Brainwash You
Want to know the top-secret (not really) method every missionary learns for teaching their message? I’ll tell you.
We teach people the basic tenets of our faith, then we encourage them to pray and get their OWN answers from the Holy Ghost.
That’s it, folks. We trust in the things we know to be true because we’ve experienced firsthand what it feels like to get our answers. If you take the missionary lessons, I swear on my life, there is no trickery involved. How do I know? Because I’ve both taken those lessons and helped give them. I’ve seen the training materials. I’ve been to the training center. There’s nothing to hide about that process because as members of this church we have nothing to gain from your potential conversion.
If a Mormon ever tries to talk to you about his or her faith, it’s for one reason alone. We do missionary work because authentically love our religion. It makes us happy and we want other people to enjoy the feelings of peace, purpose and direction we get from it. Really, can you blame us?
8. We Aren’t a Pyramid Scheme
Like I mentioned in the last point, we really don’t have anything to gain personally from the conversion of other people. I think sometimes people imagine our church to consist of millions of complacent little worker bees feeding into this evil scheme where the leaders at the top are swimming in piles of our hard-earned money.
Not so, friends. Almost every responsibility in our church is performed on a volunteer basis. Some of those individuals who serve the church full-time (such that they wouldn’t be able to also manage a full-time profession) do receive compensation, but only enough to sustain them.
Having lived very close to more than one of these individuals (one of whom was the Prophet/President of the church at the time), I can personally testify to the fact that they live a very modest lifestyle. No rolling around downtown Salt Lake City in fur coats and Escalades for them. =)
For more information on the church and its finances, read this. And finally…
9. We Like You!
We’re not perfect. Our church leaders aren’t perfect. We all make mistakes and like people of most faiths, kindness and forgiveness are the name of the game. We want to be your friends. And sure, we might try to send a Book of Mormon or two your way, but if you never read it, that’s okay too! We can still be friends!
We love helping others. We love hearing their unique perspectives on life. What we don’t want to do is get into emotionally-charged debates with you over doctrines, because in those kinds of conversations, nobody wins and everybody just feels cranky. No fun.
Here’s what I know.
Back in 2007, I read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover. I was on a quest to get answers, but I wasn’t ready to have the label of “Mormon” and all the misconceptions and rumors that implies associated with me. I didn’t want to make changes in my life and have people think I was suddenly a hate-monger and polygamist cult member.
But I also knew I needed to know for myself. On the off-chance that the things I was learning (despite how strange they sounded) were true, I knew I would have to put my reservations aside and make the switch. So I studied and prayed my little heart out, and the things that happened in my mind and heart were beyond anything I had ever experienced. Nobody talked me into it– this was between me and God.
I didn’t suspect. I knew. And I still know. And the things I know are worth turning your whole life upside down.
I know this church isn’t false the same way I know I love my family. Despite the logical reasons to believe it (and there are many), the reasons that count the most are the ones in my heart. No amount of empirical discourse can take those reasons away.
Opening myself up to the possibility that there really was a design behind all of this, that there really was a church on the earth that was directly designed and governed by Christ Himself, was the very best decision I ever made. And even if when all is said and done I find out it wasn’t true, I will STILL have no regrets. The LDS church has brought meaning to everything I do and peace to everything that scares me in life. It has crushed the crippling feelings of aimlessness that used to wear me down. It has given me endless opportunities to serve, learn and grow into a better person.
If you’re curious to learn about some other Mormons and their amazing stories, go see the movie! I haven’t seen it but I can’t wait!
Also, and please forgive my shameless plug but I really hope you’ll subscribe to my blog if you liked this post!
Here’s the info about our little blog tour:
We belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints otherwise known as “The Mormons”. We are proud of this part of who we are! We are excited to team up with over 65+ of us strong… to extend an invitation to see a film. A film entitled “Meet The Mormons”. This film is not meant to be an “in your face” – you must join our church film. It is simply designed and produced to uplift and inspire you through six stories of those of our faith who have followed promptings to follow Christ more fully in their lives. We hope you take the opportunity to enjoy this film. We hope your hearts are made light as you feel the goodness that comes from following our Christ and Savior. All proceeds from the film will be donated to The American Red Cross. So not only will you be uplifted and inspired, your money will be going to an amazing charity!!
We also would like to take a moment and share our personal testimonies, stories of our own personal conversions, and our own stories of how following our Savior, Jesus Christ has changed our lives. The light of the gospel of Jesus Christ offers a joy and hope that only following him can provide. We hope as you click through and read our stories and testimonies of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, you will feel uplifted and encouraged. We are by you! We love connecting with our readers, that is why many of us do what we do! Please be kind and considerate in your comments. It takes great bravery for us to open our hearts and our mouths to share with you such a tender and personal part of who we are. We share because we feel strongly the need to share the peace and the hope that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.