I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more commonly known as the Mormons. I’ll try not to give you a boring history lesson but I would love to clarify how the “Mormons/Latter-day Saints” came to be, what we believe in, and why we serve missions.
HOW THE MORMONS/LATTER-DAY SAINTS CAME TO BE
During the Second Great Awakening (period of Protestant revival in the 1820s when many new denominations taught about Christ and the Second Coming), a 14-year old boy from Palmyra, New York, named Joseph Smith who was confused as to which of the competing churches to join. He turned to the Bible for divine guidance. In James 1:5 he read “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.” Joseph went into a grove of trees near his home and knelt down to pray to Heavenly Father and ask which of all the churches was the right one. He later recounted his experience, “I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me [ … ] When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other-This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Joseph Smith History 1:16-17) He was told that none of the churches on the earth was completely true and that he was chosen to restore the truths and priesthood powers and authority from God that had been absent since the death of Christ’s disciples. Several years later, a sacred ancient was revealed to Joseph. This record was another testament of Christ to be used alongside the Bible and provide the needed guidance and comfort for God’s children in the modern world. This record is the Book of Mormon. Through continual revelation and guidance from Heavenly Father, Joseph restored God’s true church and gospel to the earth by organizing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1830. We do not worship Joseph Smith, we worship God. Rather, we consider him a prophet who, like Abraham and Moses, brought truth and guidance to God’s children. Our story is not of some delusional nobody who wrote a weird book and created a highly misrepresented church but rather of a young man who wanted to know the truth about God, how he should be living, and what life was all about. Our story is about a young man acting as a servant of God to restore His complete gospel and truth and how the modern-day revelations and guidance found in the Book of Mormon can strengthen our souls and give our lives a meaningful purpose.
WHAT WE BELIEVE IN
This website will tell you everything you need to know about the standard Mormon beliefs. I will share a couple additional things that you might have not heard before, what really makes us different from any other church. I will also try to clear up any common misconceptions.
1) We believe that families can be together for eternity, not just till death do us part, but even after we have died. The Mormon church has temples all over the world (141 operating, 13 under construction, 16 announced) and one of the main things that is done in the temple is called a “temple sealing”. That is the marriage ceremony in which a man that has been bestowed the holy power from Heavenly Father can “seal” a man and woman and their posterity together…forever. This perspective of spending an eternity with another person and creating an eternally bound family with another person makes marriage so much sacred and binding. Have you ever lost a loved one and wondered where they went and if you will ever see them again? You can.
2) We do not practice polygamy. God has commanded the practice of plural marriage several times in history (like with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Bible). “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. Church leaders regulated the practice. Those entering into it had to be authorized to do so, and the marriages had to be performed through the sealing power of the priesthood. In 1890, President Wilford Woodruff received a revelation that the leaders of the Church should cease teaching the practice of 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.” So no, I don’t have 4 moms 🙂
3) We pay one tenth of our income as tithing. The law of tithing is a commandment of God that has been in practice since Old Testament times. That money goes to:
- Constructing temples, chapels, and other buildings.
- Providing operating funds for the Church.
- Funding the missionary program (This does not include individual missionary expenses.)
- Preparing materials used in Church classes and organizations.
- Temple work, family history, and many other important Church functions.
WHY WE SERVE MISSIONS
Missions are optional. Young men may go at age 18 (for 2 years) and young women may leave at age 19 (for 18 months). For the longest time, young men could serve at age 19 and young women at age 21 until our prophet Thomas S. Monson announced in October 2012 the revelation that young men could not serve at 18 and young women at 19. This was life-changing news! I always knew that I wanted to serve a mission but I wasn’t planning on it for another 2 or 3 years. So this exciting news really shook the Mormon world. “The Savior taught His disciples, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations” (Matthew 28:19). As followers of Jesus Christ, members of His Church are enthusiastic about proclaiming the good news of His restored gospel to all who are willing to listen.
“There is a marvelous phenomenon which occurs among men when the light of the gospel illuminates their lives. Almost instinctively, it seems, the light of truth sparks a desire to share. When our minds are expanded by new knowledge, we want others to know; when our spirits are elevated by heavenly influence, we want others to feel; and when our lives are filled with goodness, we want others, particularly those whom we love, to enjoy similar experiences.” – Carlos E. Asay
We have an amazing message to share with the world and want to share the happiness and blessings that only come from a Christ-centered life.
But I am super serious, if you have any questions at all about the Mormon faith, culture, history, practices – http://mormon.org/eng will ROCK YOUR WORLD.