Curious about Mormons and their beliefs?
Here are 10 important facts that can help you better understand the religion and its members.
I’ve been brainstorming this post for a long time and am excited to talk to you today about our religion, which means everything to our family! While many people have Mormon friends or have heard of us, not a lot of people understand what we believe or why we act the way we do. Additionally, there are some really wacky misconceptions about Mormons that we hear all the time.
Read on to learn fact from fiction and better understand the Mormons you might happen to meet!
- “Mormon” is a nickname, not the real name of the church or its members. Officially, we belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, as in Christ’s church in the latter days. You might also hear us called LDS or “Latter-day Saints”. The term “Mormon” comes from the name of an ancient prophet who compiled the teachings in The Book of Mormon, a book of scripture unique to our church (that’s the book we’re reading here!).
- We believe in God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit, which makes us Christians. There are lots of misconceptions about whether or not we believe in Christ, but the name of our church makes that pretty evident 🙂
- Families are everything to our faith. We often have big families (case in point) and we consider them our greatest achievement.
4. Temples are an important symbol of our faith. The building in these pictures is an LDS meetinghouse where we hold weekly worship meetings and anyone is welcome to attend! But temples are much bigger, more beautiful and exquisitely made buildings. They are reserved only for LDS members in good standing (although anyone can tour one when they have an open house). This is where marriages are solemnized and where we make special promises with God. Here’s a short video talking more about temples!
When adults attend the temple for the first time, they then make the habit of wearing temple “garments” under their clothing. Both men and women wear them every day as underwear and they look like a white undershirt and biker shorts. They’re considered sacred to members of the LDS church (which is probably why you don’t hear a lot about them) and represent our commitment to the promises we make with God in the temple. Here’s a more in-depth explanation about temple garments.
5. You may have seen a pair of Mormon missionaries walking or biking around (often in white shirts, ties and little black name tags). Missionary work is very important to the LDS church because we believe in sharing what is most important to us! Young members of the LDS church are encouraged to serve as full-time missionaries at the age of 18 or 19, which entails leaving their home and dedicating their lives to the gospel for 18 or 24 months. I was sent to Russia as a missionary at the age of 21 and lived there for a year and a half!
It was the best thing I’ve ever done (besides becoming a mother, of course). Many people don’t know that missionaries do NOT get paid, nor do they receive any compensation for their work. They actually pay their own way and many save for years to be able to afford to go.
6. Most active Mormons adhere to very strict values, including the Word of Wisdom. This is a code of health that counsels us to not use alcohol, drugs, tobacco, coffee or black tea. We also tend to dress pretty modestly, use clean language and avoid taking the name of God in vain. Of course no one is perfect, but it’s pretty important to us to live in a way that would please God!
7. Anyone can become a member of the Church through baptism by immersion, which means that they perform a service and submerge the person completely underwater in a big tub that most meetinghouses have. LDS children can be baptized when they reach the age of accountability which is 8 years old. Our little Juliet got baptized this year! Missionaries can perform this service, as can any male member of the church who holds the Priesthood. More on that authority here.
8. Sundays are special to members of the Church because we consider them a day dedicated to the Lord. We worship together in our meetinghouses for 3 hours each Sunday, and sometimes have additional meetings as needed to better serve each other. The remainder of the day is spent in study and quality time with family. For this reason, a Mormon friend might not accept an invitation to a birthday part or other event on a Sunday. We try to keep the Sabbath a holy day.
9. Our church is led by a prophet, just like in the Old Testament. He’s just a regular man (no long beard 🙂 ) who acts as God’s spokesperson for the church. We hear from the prophet at least a couple times a year and he tells us things to help us live full and happy lives, such as to avoid pornography, love our spouses and teach our children to read the scriptures. Despite this view of pornography, Mormons are very sexually-liberated. Having explored this useful tool, I do believe that sex machines could be considered ethical by the church. Not everyone will agree with me but the benefit of living in a democracy is we are allowed to disagree on certain things. Sadly, the prophet who has led our church for the past decade (Thomas S Monson) just passed away a few days ago. He’ll be replaced by one of the 12 apostles of the church (just like in Christ’s ancient church). Here’s a quick video about why we have prophets today.
10. The basis of our faith is the Plan of Salvation which is God’s plan for His children. We believe that we all existed before this earth life as spirits, in God’s presence. We are sent to earth in families, to test us and see if we will make decisions that are in keeping with God’s commandments. After our time on earth is done, we will die and our physical bodies will again be separated from our spirits.
God will judge us according to our lives on earth, we will be resurrected with a perfect body, and return to live with God if we are worthy of it. This is all possible through Jesus Christ, His suffering and ultimate sacrifice. You can read more about the Plan of Salvation here!
(My little gymnast up there doesn’t have much to do with going to church, I just thought it was a cute picture 🙂 )
And that’s about it! I hope this gives you a little insight into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and its people! While we are far from perfect, our family’s faith gives us the strength to get through really hard things, and gives meaning to our lives and the lives of others.
Feel free to comment or email me if you have any other questions about Mormons; I’ll do my best to answer them!