Curious about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints 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 explain a little bit 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 us 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 actual name of the church or its members. 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 Book of Mormon, a book of scripture unique to our church (that’s the book we’re reading in these pictures). We know it’s a pain to use the full name of the church, but you might get (politely) asked to do so if you call it the “Mormon church” in person.
- We believe in God our Heavenly Father, His Son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit (also called the Holy Ghost), 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. We study and believe the King James Version of the Holy Bible (Old and New Testament) as well as The Book of Mormon which was translated by the power of God from golden plates that were discovered by Joseph Smith Jr., the first prophet since Christ’s day. We also have 2 other books of scripture (the book of Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price) which we regularly study at home and in sunday school.
- Families are everything to our faith. We often have big families (case in point) and we consider an uplifting home and family life our greatest achievement. We also believe that we’ll be able to live with our families again after we die.
4. Temples are an important symbol of our faith. The building in these pictures is a local 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 members of the church 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. In fact, there’s a really big gorgeous “mormon temple” in Salt Lake City, Utah that you’ve probably seen a picture of. 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 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 missionaries from our church walking or biking around (often in white shirts, ties and little black name tags). Missionary work is one of the most important things to us because we believe in sharing what is most important to us! Young members of the 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 (many simply get sent to a different area of the United States).
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 members of the Church of Jesus Christ 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, practice abstinence before marriage, use clean language and avoid taking the name of God in vain. Of course no one is perfect, and we all have different ways we follow this set of values, but it’s pretty important to us to live in a way that would please God. You can read more about the basic tenets of “mormon beliefs” in our Articles of Faith.
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. Children can be baptized when they reach the age of accountability which is 8 years old; here’s a post about when our little Juliet got baptized. Missionaries can perform this service, as can any male member of the church who holds the Priesthood authority. More on that here.
8. Sundays are special to church members because we consider them a day dedicated to the Lord. We worship together in our meetinghouses for 2 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 friend whos a member of our church might not accept an invitation to a birthday party 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 communicates the word of God to the church. We hear from the prophet at least a couple times a year and he gives us advice on how to live full and happy lives, such as to avoid pornography, love our spouses and teach our children to read the scriptures. Our current prophet (and president of the church) is Russell M. Nelson. 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 and ultimate sacrifice. You can read more about the Plan of Salvation here!
A few more fun facts:
• We get asked fairly often about plural marriage (or polygamy). It was practiced by a minority of members of our church in the 1800s but was officially abandoned in 1890. Church leaders and members no longer practice nor endorse plural marriage.
• Brigham Young University is a big church-owned college that most people know about. BYU is located in Utah (with satellite campuses in Idaho and Hawaii) and is where I received my BA. Because it’s church owned and run, students at BYU have to commit to following an honor code which includes following the values listed in number 6.
• If you follow any bloggers or influencers who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, you might have heard about General Conference. This is a bi-annual gathering of church leaders who speak to the general public about all kinds of gospel topics. It takes place in April and October and is one of my favorite events!
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 church doctrine and its members; I’ll do my best to answer them.