What is the Relief Society?

Sorry I haven’t written on the blog for a couple of weeks. We’ve had spring break, and I’ve actually started teaching for the Pathway program, so I feel like I’m on the computer all the time. ANYWAY…

I’ve been thinking a lot about Mormon Women lately. Here is a list of reasons why:

  • The Ordain Women group has been gaining traction in the media. While I don’t agree with their movement, they have been making me think about being a woman in the LDS church including my roles, rights, and blessings.
  • In what seems to be a reaction to the Ordain Women movement, another Movement has sprung up – Mormon Women Stand
  • I often get overwhelmed by my duties and the challenges of this world. I crave a sisterhood with like-minded women who are noble, nurturing, and strong.

As these three things swirl in my brain, I find that there is one common solution to them, and that is The Relief Society.

What is the Relief Society?

First of all, it is important to understand what the Relief Society is. According to mormon.org, the Relief Society is defined as follows:

“The Relief Society is the oldest and largest women’s organization in the world. Relief Society was established in 1842 for women 18 years of age and older. Its purpose is to build faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and help those in need.”

Now – onto how the Relief Society has been able to be the solution to the mind-swirling I’ve been having lately.

The Ordain Women Movement

According to the Ordain Women Group, their purpose is:

“Ordain Women aspires to create a space for Mormons to articulate issues of gender inequality they may be hesitant to raise alone. As a group we intend to put ourselves in the public eye and call attention to the need for the ordination of Mormon women to the priesthood.”

First, and foremost, I don’t necessarily agree with the assertion made by the Ordain Women group. I don’t agree that there is an issue of gender inequality in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Neither do I think that the Family Proclamation perpetuates antiquated ideas or inequality between men and women.

This being said, I don’t deny the fact that some women might feel marginalized in the Church. I understand this. I have experienced being in counsels with men who won’t listen. I don’t personally believe that if I held the Priesthood I would have been seen as any kind of authority. I just think that some dudes are like that a little chauvinistic and kind of jerky – even if they don’t mean to be.

For some reason, this kind of attitude has prevailed over the millennia. I think that men have a hard time understanding why the women think that the way they do. Straight away, I think of Peter and Mary Magdalene:

“Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

10 And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.

11 And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.” – Mark 16:9-11

To be fair: these apostles didn’t believe the disciples who saw Christ on the Road to Emmaus. And Thomas didn’t believe all of the apostles that had seen the resurrected Lord.

But I’ve always found this striking: Christ first appeared to Mary Magdalene. She didn’t hold any kind of Priesthood authority, but He came to her and revealed himself to her. And the apostles didn’t believe her.

Sometimes I think that all of this misunderstanding between men and women comes only because men have a hard time understanding women, and it may seem that they tend to belittle and downplay women. I hate making this blanket statement because I have met and known many open minded men. But let’s just say that I have had discussions with men about women and emotions.

Really quickly – so – some men seem to downplay women because we can be a little more emotional or intuitive. Some men seem to only be able to respond to logic and reason. I totally understand this. And I say, It is totally illogical and unreasonable to ignore our intuition, emotions, and spirits! We are people, we aren’t robots. We have emotions and unique Spirits how would it be logical to discount this side of who we are when making any kind of decision in life???

(Oh, and I have also found that men have an especially hard time with women who react emotionally. I, too, find that it is best to not react, but this isn’t because I want to deny my woman-ness. Instead, it is because I want to make a wise decision. AND BESIDES, sometimes I think that men forget that anger is an emotion, and reacting in anger is often more illogical than a woman’s weeping…Interestingly enough, in the General Relief Society Broadcasts, I have experienced listening to prophets compliment and comfort the women. My opinion – it just takes some men, even good men, about 80 years to really understand the value of a woman’s emotions, opinions, and intuitive nature).

anyway!!!

I just want to say that while I don’t necessarily agree with the Ordain Women women, I don’t doubt that they honestly feel the way that they do. Additionally, I don’t think that it is necessarily wrong to feel confused, belittled, or unequal. That happens sometimes! And sometimes that happens for a good reason.

However, there is one thing that I do disagree with – and that is the way that the Ordain Women group has gone about their purposes. I believe that the best way to take an issue up with God is by taking it up with Himand praying! I know that God answers our prayers. I know that He listens to us. I know that He will influence our prophet and apostles if it is the right thing to do/pray about.

I mean, think about it this way – when members of the church desire to have a temple built in an area we are taught to pray, we are taught to pay our tithing, we are taught to attend the temple. We are not taught to write a letter Salt Lake and petition the prophet to have a temple. He isn’t in charge of the Church, the Lord is. Priesthood or not, every woman, every man, every child has access to our Heavenly Father. We just have to get on our knees. Heck, we don’t even have to get on our knees! Just Pray!

And now – to the Relief Society, I think that the Relief Society is the answer to this problem. When we understand our role in the church and in our family, and when we understand the blessing and honor it is to be a member of the Relief Society, we will understand what we need to do in order to have our concerns addressed.

The motto of the Relief Society is charity never faileth. Can you come up with anything more inspired, more enabling, more beautiful, more Christlike? As members of the Relief Society, we will seek to understand Charity more. We will be cognizant of the fact that Charity is a lot more than quilt tying and giving service. And as members of the Relief Society that understand the meaning of charity, we will also remember that Christ’s love never fails. Mormon teaches us about Charity:

“And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—

But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.” – Moroni 7:45-47

It just seems to me that if we, members of the Relief Society, understand what Charity is, then, when we have questions about the church – legitimate questions, when we have qualms, when we are wronged, when we have issues that come from our hearts, then we will address them with faith and with charity.

Relief Society can help us when we struggle.

Mormon Women Stand

I was invited to be a part of Mormon Women Stand. This is a group that seems to have sprung up in reaction to the Ordain Women movement. Here is their mission:

“Mormon Women Stand is a collaborative online effort to join like-minded female members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who share a desire to make a public stand as witnesses of Jesus Christ and in support of ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World’. We believe standing together will reflect the divine nature and power that LDS women are endowed with to influence others for good. We unequivocally sustain the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles—commissioned by God and sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators. We support how the Lord has delegated priesthood authority to organize and administer the gospel among all of His children.” – Mormon Women Stand

Like the Ordain Women movement, I believe that this group is thoughtful. They want to stand up for their beliefs at a time when they believe that their beliefs are being assailed.

Initially, I went ahead and “liked” the Facebook group. I, essentially, agree with them. I believe in standing as a witness of Jesus Christ. I have promised to do so …in all times, and in all things, and in all places [I am in] even unto death.” (See Mosiah 18:10.)

But I started to think about this group. And I wondered, Why isn’t my membership in the Relief Society and in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints enough. As I just mentioned, because I’ve been baptized and have covenanted with Christ, then I have already committed myself to being His witness.

Additionally, as a member of the Relief Society, I have also decided to live up to it’s motto – that Charity never faileth, which means that I wouldn’t really be provoked or threatened by other groups or adversity – whether it comes from an external or internal source.

My membership in the Church and in the Relief Society is enough, and instead of singling myself out (whether with the Ordain Women group or with Mormon Women Stand), I ought to simply seek sisterhood with all saints in the gospel. I feel like Satan is trying to destroy us by dividing us, and even if our intentions are good, if we aren’t careful, then we might stop being charitable. And if we aren’t charitable, then we will fail.

I Crave Sisterhood

This leads me to my last point, and why I love the Relief Society, and why I need the Relief Society.

Yesterday, I read an article about Peter Lanza and Sandy Hook in the New Yorker. It was sad, terrifying, horrible, depressing, you name it. I also read An article about the rising generation and problems with p*rnography. It was sad, terrifying, horrible, depressing, you name it.

Both of these articles, read within hours of one another, had me wondering, how do I do it? I have four little children. I have three beautiful girls, and one delightful son. I see the good in them, and I want that to shine throughout their lives. I want them to know the good in themselves. I want them to know God, and to know the truth.

But there are so many lies. So many difficulties. What do I do???

And, I realized, the answer is The Relief Society.

Through the Relief Society, I have been able to meet like-minded sisters who also are striving. Some of the sisters are young, married mothers; some of these sisters are women who have never married; some sisters are women in the middle of their lives like me. Some are old, some are divorced, some are tall, some are short, some are thin, some are blonde, some are white, some are black, some are from Mexico, some are from Croatia, some are just like me, some are nothing like me. but we are all sisters, and we are all striving to obtain charity – that pure love of Christ which never fails.

This Saturday evening at 6PM MDT, the General Women’s Broadcast will be aired. We will be meeting as women – as sisters – ages 8 and up – to be taught by our leaders, the apostles, and prophets. We will be able to attend this meeting, for the first time, with our mothers and young daughters. All together!!! We will be reminded of our work, we will be edified, and we will be able to leave the meeting resolved to keep striving and overcome the sad, terrifying, horrible things that the world is trying to throw at us.

***

Moi, Daughter, Sister, Wife, Mother, Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints and the Relief Society.

Moi, Daughter, Sister, Wife, Mother, Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints and the Relief Society.

I am so grateful for my membership in the Relief Society. Ironically, the longest I’ve ever been in Relief Society was when I was a teacher for about three or four months. Otherwise, I have served with the children or youth. But this doesn’t nullify my membership in this divine group of women. I love knowing that anywhere I go, I will find women that I can call my sisters. I’m convinced that we, members of the Relief Society, can change the world – little by little. I don’t think my claim is outrageous, either. After all, the Relief Society claims that Charity never faileth, and we have the opportunity to live up to this standard.

Through my membership in the Relief Society, I have become a better woman. I have come closer to my Heavenly Father. I have been able to better understand the meaning and purpose of my life, personally. At Relief Society, I have felt camaraderie, I have laughed, I have cried, and I have been elevated.

***
Are you a member of the Relief Society? How do you feel about being a member of this sisterhood? What can you do to commit yourself to it’s motto – that Charity never faileth? What are your feelings of Relief Society and being a woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

If you are not Mormon, what are the questions that you have about the Relief Society and about women in the LDS church. I am open to a kind and honest dialogue, so ask away!

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The Atonement: Power to Cleanse and Sanctify

The Atonement and Your Personal Relationship with Christ This blog post is part of a series of posts that will explore the Atonement by studying Christ’s life in the New Testament. If you want to find the assignments, you can download my eBooks for Matthew, Mark, (Luke, and John coming soon).

The Atonement and Your Personal Relationship with Christ–Assignment for Matthew 3

Read Matthew 3. Ponder the following questions. Write your own thoughts in your scripture journal.

  1. In Matthew 3:11-12, we learn that Christ will baptize us with the Holy Ghost. We also learn that He will purge His wheat, and burn the chaff. What does this mean? How does it relate to the Atonement? How does Christ’s Atonement sanctify those who choose to follow Him into the waters of baptism? How does His Atonement save the good and destroy the wicked?
  2. In verses 13-17, Christ is baptized. How is this a part of the bigger picture of the Atonement that He will perform?
  3. As you know, Christ was baptized even though He was holy. Think of your own baptism. Who made baptism possible for you? When you are baptized, you are then able to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. How has this Gift helped you in your life? How have the covenant of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost impacted your relationship with the Savior?

  4. New Testament Study Companion: Matthew

I have a few thoughts about this set of scriptures–especially when I think of the Atonement. Mainly, I’m struck by the idea that the Atonement can both cleanse us from our sins and sanctify us.

In Matthew 3:11-12, we read:

” I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” – Matthew 3:11-12

Baptism

John the Baptist is speaking to a group of people in these verses. They understood the need to be baptized, and came to him to have this ordinance performed. They understood that in order to receive salvation, they would need to be cleansed from their sins through baptism; they knew they needed to covenant with God.

It is Christ’s Atonement that enables us to make this covenant and be cleansed in the water of Baptism. Jesus teaches:

“And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.” – 3 Nephi 27:19

In order to enter into the kingdom of God, we must “wash” our garments in His blood. Christ truly shed His blood for us in the garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross at calvary. We “wash” our garments in His blood when we covenant with Him in the waters of baptism. In this way, we are clean, and then worthy to enter into the kingdom.

But the thing is, we know that it doesn’t end there. John the Baptist teaches that we will not only be baptized by water, but that Christ will baptize us with the Holy Ghost. This leads us to…

Sanctification

In order to be baptized (with water), we must repent and have faith in Christ. The cleansing effect of the baptism by water prepares us for the next step: Sanctification through baptism of fire (or the Holy Ghost).

It is easy to want to think that being cleansed=being sanctified. But…they are different

If you look up the word sanctify in a dictionary, you will find the following definition: “To make holy to set apart as sacred; to consecrate.” When Christ baptizes us with the Holy Ghost and with fire, He sanctifies us. He makes us holy. He sets us apart as sacred beings. He consecrates us. Then we are able to enter into God’s kingdom, as we are both clean and Holy. Again, in 3 Nephi, Jesus taches:

“Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.” – 3 Nephi 27:20

***

The thing that really strikes me is that the audience who is listening to John, as I mentioned earlier, is pretty much faithful. They are willing to be baptized. They want to covenant with God. Yet, then he teaches about Christ saying, “Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

I’ve always thought of this verse as having to do with those who accept the gospel and Christ vs. those who don’t. And in some ways, I suppose that’s true. But, as I think about this verse, Christ’s role as our Savior, Redeemer, Atoner, and the fact that most of the people hearing John say this are already faithful, then I come away with a new understanding.

One
Jesus has the fan in his hand. He’s ready to fan the flames. He will turn up the heat, so to speak. We who have covenanted with Him and who are righteous are gathered and saved in the garner. Those who aren’t probably didn’t even make it to the threshing area. They were most likely bundled with the weeds long before.

Two
In this verse, John uses the imagery of wheat and chaff.

Now, time for me to turn to the dictionary again. If you do, then you will learn that chaff is not a separate plant. It isn’t a tare or weed. It is the husk of grain that is separated during threshing.The chaff is, originally, a part of the blade of wheat. So…when it was gathered from the field, it was part of the “good” plant.

However, the chaff is a useless part of the plant. In order to get to the seed, the good and useful part of the plant, then we must get rid of the chaff–exposing the useful, edible part of the plant.

We are like these wheat plants. We have been gathered in, and now we’re being separated–our fruit from the chaff. Through the Atonement of Christ, what is good and useful inside each of us can be made available. Christ will rid us of our chaff–through sanctification: baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost. This purging isn’t always easy. I think that sometimes getting rid of our rough, “useless” edges is kind of hard. We don’t really want to let that stuff go. This purging means that we will begin to recognize the ways that we need to change in order to become more like our Savior and Exemplar. Such change is only possible through Christ’s Atonement. Through His Atonement, the Lord will “thresh” us–separating the “chaff” – or natural man, from the “seed” – our divine nature and true identity.

***

When we choose to covenant with Christ in the waters of baptism, we let the power of the Atonement work in our lives. In the waters of baptism we are cleansed. After this initial cleansing, we are purified through the Holy Ghost. It is Christ and His Atonement that enables us to be clean and holy.

***
As you study this scripture block, what do you learn about Christ, the Atonement? How does this knowledge strengthen your relationship with Him?

Why the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Antidote to Sociopathy

Okay…I read an article in Psychiatry Today titled, Confessions of a Sociopath. It sounds pretty interesting, right?

I have to admit that I’m pretty intrigued because I feel like I have been very close to a sociopath in my life. I’ve been reading a few books lately on the subject, and I have had thoughts swirling in my mind. I wasn’t planning on blogging about it, but then I came across the following quote in the aforementioned article:

What Is Evil, Really?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a sociopath’s dream. Mormons believe that everyone has the potential to be godlike—I believe this includes me. Every being is capable of salvation; my actions are what matters, not my ruthless thoughts, not my nefarious motivations. Everyone is a sinner, and I never felt that I was outside this norm.

When I read this, I’m not sure if I was incredulous or simply entertained. I started to laugh. Really!? Does this author even go to the LDS church?! I came to realize that my I was so surprised because prior to reading this article – as I’ve been reading other literature on sociopathy and psychopathy – repeatedly I’ve had the thought, “These people need the gospel.”

I’m not going to take the time to describe sociopathy or psychopathy now. If you are unfamiliar, you can find some good, general information here. I want to make a disclaimer, that I don’t really think I personally know how to help an individual who is seeking healing from such a disability. Obviously, I don’t have the training. However, I know that the gospel can help put anyone on the right track. Above all, I know that the claim that this author made is untrue. The Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints isn’t a “sociopath’s dream.” The connotation of this statement is that the LDS church breeds sociopaths. The rest of the quoted paragraph is flat-out false. The author should, perhaps, read the scriptures. Of course, the author claims to be a sociopath, so I shouldn’t find the statement to be all that surprising. 😉 Additionally, Psychology Today might do well to fact-check statements made by a self-proclaimed sociopath before publishing as if it is true.

Learn more about how to be Christ-like here...

Learn more about how to be Christ-like here…

Enough of that. Here are a few points on why the gospel is actually anti-sociopathy:

Jesus is our Exemplar

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that Jesus Christ is our Savior, Redeemer, Creator, King, Master, Messiah, and more. We believe that He is our Example to follow. We have been bidden to follow Christ-not only in where we go, but how we live. We are taught to follow His example.

We are taught by Nephi:

“And he said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father?

And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.

And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.” – 2 Nephi 31:10-13

We have been invited, by Christ to follow Him. In doing so, we must be repentant and be baptized. Nephi teaches us the qualifications – we must follow Christ with full purpose of heart – which means that we cannot pretend our motivations. We take on Christ’s name without hypocrisy or deception before God. We cannot follow Christ unless our intent is real. It is a matter of heart. Following Christ is not made up only of outward performances.

It is the LDS belief that we can become like God. Not only do we feel it a belief, but we feel it a commandment. Jesus Christ, himself taught:

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” – Matthew 5:48

“Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” – 3 Nephi 12:48

We are commanded to be perfect, or whole/complete, just as both Christ and Heavenly Father are. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we know that we are not capable, in and of ourselves, of keeping this commandment. Yet, we also know that the Lord gives no commandments unto the children of men save He shall prepare a way for them to accomplish the thing that He hath commanded them. (See 1 Nephi 3:7.) Becoming perfect, or like God, is only possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It is only possible as we do what Nephi described above – when we repent, and are baptized. And these covenants only take effect in our lives when we do them with real intent, without hypocrisy, with a full heart.

In modeling our lives after the Savior, we will see that we need to be full of Charity. Honestly, as I’ve begun studying sociopathy (and I will admit that my “study” of sociopathy is rudimentary), I have seen that Charity is the sociopathy’s polar opposite.

Mormon teaches us about charity:

“And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” – Mormon 7:45

As you can see, each trait of one who has obtained charity is completely antithetical to the traits commonly attributed to sociopaths. Charity is the pure love of Christ and can only come through His grace (See Ether 12:36). To receive the blessings of Christ’s grace, we need to follow Him, and then – (Again!) as Nephi teaches: repent, be baptized, and – well – you can read the rest of it at the beginning of this post.

If we seek to keep the command given to us to be perfect and follow Christ, then we must understand what He is teaching us. God isn’t a power-hungry God. He isn’t a psychopath. He isn’t arbitrary or unfeeling. He doesn’t destroy without care. God is a loving God. He is merciful and kind. Everything that the Savior did was for the benefit of the world (See 2 Nephi 26:24). In our pursuit to be like God, we shouldn’t be confused by a worldly idea of an arbitrarily omnipotent being. We must remember that God is motivated by His pure love. When we seek to be like Him, we will be moved by charity.

Actions Matter…So Do Thoughts and Motivations

In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin taught:

“And finally, I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them.

But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.” – Mosiah 4:29-30

If we aren’t watching our thoughts and words, then our deeds will often follow the darkness of sin that might lurk in our minds and hearts. Even if we try to be good on the outside, having a rotten core isn’t acceptable. We have been taught to cleanse our inner vessels. Christ doesn’t really have much patience for hypocrites.

I suppose that this idea of what we do being so important comes up because Mormons believe that we must qualify for the healing balm of Christ’s Grace through our works. (See 2 Nephi 25:23). Obviously, what we do is important. The Lord expects us to work hard and be anxiously engaged in a good cause. But the works aren’t enough. Mormon teaches:

“For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.

For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness.

For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.

And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such.

Wherefore, a man being evil cannot do that which is good; neither will he give a good gift.” – Moroni 7:6-10

We can give gifts all day long. We can, like the Pharisees, cast our money into the treasury at the temple. We can broaden our phylacteries, and show off our supposed devotion to God. Yet, when these “good” deeds are done without real intent, or, in other words, with “nefarious motivations”, then it is as if the “giver” retained the gift, and he is “counted evil before God.”

Our hearts, our intents, our motivations–they matter.

***

This is long, but I have to say – sure, LDS people can become sociopaths. I have known a sociopathic Mormon. I don’t know the conditions of what causes a person to be a sociopath. Perhaps they are born with different brain patterns. Maybe they are raised in a bad environment. But I know that ultimately, we exercise our own agency. We make the choice to lie, manipulate, hurt, and even destroy. The Lord does not sanction such action no matter what religious organization we affiliate with.

We don’t need to be fooled that sociopathy-life with “power” and without conscience-is desirable. Read the scriptures. God expects us to become as He is. He doesn’t lie. He doesn’t start fights or feuds. He doesn’t manipulate to get what He wants. He doesn’t arbitrarily destroy for entertainment. He loves. He blesses. He teaches. He guides. He builds us up. He weeps for us. He corrects us. He has laid down His life for us. He is full of charity.

When we truly follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then we will one day become God-like: full of love, kindness, mercy, charity, and happiness. This is the antidote to sociopathy.

Do Mormons regard the Bible as Holy Scripture and the word of God?

The short answer: Yes!

Mormons believe the Bible to be the Word of God – as far as it is translated correctly. (See Articles of Faith 1:8.)

My Scriptures

My Scriptures

I know that the Bible is the word of God.

Here are a few experiences I have had – that have helped me to know that the Bible is Holy Scripture.

The Bible and Understanding My Identity as a Woman

When I was in college, I took several Women’s Studies courses. Women’s Studies was a relatively new department. As I was nearing my graduation, I found that I nearly had enough credits to qualify for the Women’s Studies Minor, but I had taken an “upside-down” approach – taking many upper-divisional classes without having taken the low-level prerequisite classes. In order to receive credit for the Minor in Women’s Studies, I’d have to take two basic courses.

So, I took the First Women’s Studies basic course. I can’t remember the course title. But I can remember the way that it made me feel – as a woman, human. As the class progressed, I would feel challenged, confused, and ultimately frustrated. Sure, some of the ideas that my professors proposed seemed to be grounded in some kind of truth, but day after day, I came away from the class feeling dissatisfied at the idea of feminism and the worldly notion of what womanhood is.

Directly after class, I’d walk out of the room, feeling confused, and I’d walk across the street into the Ogden Institute of Religion. I was taking an Old Testament class. There, we began the semester studying Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. After leaving my women’s studies class, where I was taught, motherhood, by nature was oppressive, I was able to learn that Eve was the Mother of All Living – an elevated calling. I learned that, yes, bearing children was cursed, but it was done for her sake – not for her oppression. There is a great beauty and blessing in the challenge of motherhood. Not all of our blessings are easy. We have to learn to find the blessing in trials, too.

I would walk out of my women’s studies class feeling confused about women’s roles in family and society, then I’d walk across the street and learn about Sariah. Not only was Abraham a Patriarch, but Sariah was his companion.

In my Women’s Studies class, I was taught that patriarchy is oppressive, and that many religions exploit the notion that God is a man – to somehow imply that woman is less than man. Then I’d walk across the street, to my Old Testament Class, where I would study Rebekah – A righteous mother in Israel who was prompted that the birthright blessing should go to Jacob; or Deborah – the prophetess of Israel, Judge, Counselor, and Warrior.

I’d go from “Women’s Studies” which seemed to make me feel crushed and depressed about being a woman over to the institute where I’d study an ancient text (not exactly known for being “woman friendly”) and learn about the kind of woman I am and want to be.

It was the Bible who helped me to understand that I am not only a child of God, but a Daughter of God, and that there is power in this. That I’m loved and cherished by my Father. And that though I must go through some burdens in the flesh, and though men haven’t always been as kind to women as they should be, these actions didn’t reflect God’s esteem of me or any of His daughters.

The Bible and Understanding that Jesus is My Savior and Redeemer

My favorite scripture is contained in the words of the Bible, and recorded by Isaiah:

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:3-5

When I think of my own love and dedication to the Savior, I often want to include this scripture. It is so powerful. He was despised, but this didn’t prevent His love for us. Instead, he has experienced what we experienced. He has overcome temptation, sickness, sin, and death. Because He has descended below all things, we have the opportunity to be healed.

I think that I love this scripture so much because of the concept of healing. That is what I need in my life: I need to be healed from the pains caused by others, or by my own sins, or even my simple nature. Christ offers this healing, and no where else in the scriptures is it more beautifully or powerfully expressed than by Isaiah in the Bible.

Through the Bible, I know I can Rely on Christ

Another scripture that has sustained me through hard times has been from the Bible:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

It is so easy to forget that Christ will give us peace and rest. It is easy to forget that we can come unto Him, and put His yoke upon us – which will help us to bear up our burdens. Yet He pleads with us to remember and to come unto Him.

I love this scripture. Christ loves us. We can feel His love through the power of the Word of God – in the Bible.

So many more examples

There are so many more examples I could give of personal experiences I have had with the Holy Bible. Because of the Bible:

  • I know that the Lord is my Master and that I have no need to fear even the most troubled “waters”
  • I want to be like Mary Magdalene, who knew the voice of Her Master when he was Resurrected and appeared to her in the Garden
  • I have been saved from horrible situations and guided to a better path.

I know that the Bible is the Word of God. I know that it teaches and testifies of Christ. I know that through the Bible we can infuse our lives with the Spirit. We can receive direction, comfort, and strength. I love the scriptures, and I love the Holy Bible. I’m so grateful to live in a time when it is easily accessible.

Find out more of what Mormons believe about the Bible being the word of God here.

Find the King James Version of the Bible online here.

What are your experiences with the Bible – that have helped you to know it is truly the word of God?

What are Mormon Church Services Like?

When I was growing up, I often went to two churches. We would go to my Mom’s church – the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Then, we’d also attend a Mass with my dad at the local Catholic Parish.

While both services had plenty in common; I always noticed two major differences: Dad’s church wasn’t long. And you didn’t have to wear a dress. (Just so you know, my Mom always made us wear a dress or dressy clothes to my Dad’s church because we were going there to worship God. We were expected to worship God in our Sunday best – the girls wearing dresses, the boys in suits and tied, and all of us with hair and teeth brushed.)

As I got older, and the topic of church came up with my friends, they would often act horrified to learn that our church lasted for three hours. They couldn’t imagine sitting for that long…and in a skirt, or suit and tie! Usually, when this reaction came up, I’d try to explain a little bit about our services…

Sacrament Meeting

The Ordinance

The Ordinance of the Sacrament (similar to communion) is the most important part of our Sunday worship. It is what Sunday Worship is all about. We are commanded to keep the Sabbath Day holy, worshiping God is an integral part in keeping the Sabbath Day Holy. In the Doctrine and Covenants, we learn

“And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;

For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High;

Nevertheless thy vows shall be offered up in righteousness on all days and at all times;

But remember that on this, the Lord’s day, thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord.” – Doctrine and Covenants 59:9-12

We have been commanded to prayerfully and humbly pay our devotions to God. We do so through commemorating the Lord’s Last Supper: we partake of these holy emblems in remembrance of the Body and Blood of Christ. Through this ordinance, we recognize our need for Him – that The Atonement He performed will pay for our sins and enable us to be reunited with our God. Through Christ’s atonement, we can overcome both physical and spiritual death. The Sacrament is a token of our commitment to Him. It is a sign of the covenant that we have made with Him at baptism: that He will cleanse and sanctify us from our sins – and we will keep His Commandments and Always Remember Him.

As you can see, this is a very personal and intimate experience. Sacrament is a reverent meeting – revolving around the actual ordinance of the Sacrament: where bread and water is blessed by those with authority and then passed to the congregation – who may partake of it if they wish.

Attendance

All are invited to attend Sacrament Meeting. You do not have to be a member of the Church. We do not have an age restriction. Everyone is welcome.

Entire families attend Sacrament together – which means children are there. This can seem a little distracting. Often, Mormon Sacrament Meetings (where there is a large amount of families with children) can have the lively buzz of children. We try to teach our children to be reverent, but we understand what Christ taught about the Children “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven,” (Matthew 19:14).

If you attend a Mormon Sacrament meeting, you can expect to find a meeting that may be lively, but that is also filled with the love of those who come to worship their God.

Dress

At Mormon Sunday Services, we are encouraged to wear our “Sunday Best.” This means different things to different people. But, just as the ordinance of sacrament is deeply personal, so is the concept of “Sunday Best.” Typically, in churches in the U.S., you will see men wearing suits and ties, and women wearing skirts or dresses. There is no limitation, though. I have seen men in jeans, tee-shirts, shorts. I have seen women in slacks. I honestly don’t have much of an opinion about what people wear. For myself, I dress modestly and in a fashion that promotes and denotes my worshipful and loving attitude for the Savior. The meeting is about Him – about His sacrifice for me and all of human-kind.

I also encourage my children to dress modestly – in a way that doesn’t draw attention and in a way that helps them to act a little more reverently. I have found that the way I dress can influence the way I act. I want my children to act reverent and to respect the sacredness of the Ordinance of the Sacrament. Two of my children have been baptized. They are under an obligation to the Lord. They need to renew their covenants as much as I do. It is up to me to teach them how to do that in a way that is loving and respectful. Dress is a part of it. Of course, it isn’t the most important thing – Above all, I want my children to turn their hearts to the Lord, and it is crucial that I do the same.

The Sacrament Meeting/Program

Sacrament meeting consists of

  • announcements (usually made by a member of the Bishopbric – local leaders)
  • prelude music
  • opening hymn (all of the congregation sings)
  • We will then be welcomed, again, to the meeting by a member of the bishopbric. If there is some kind of business that needs attending (perhaps the blessing of a child or welcoming of a new member to the congregation) then it will be attended to after the opening prayer
  • the rest of the program is announced
  • The ordinance of the sacrament is performed
  • Speakers – typically there are two to three assigned speakers. They are usually members – men and women – of the congregation. Often, they have been asked in advance to prepare a talk to give for the meeting.
  • There may also be a special musical number at some point after the ordinance of the Sacrament itself.
  • Closing Hymn
  • Closing Prayer

Sacrament usually lasts about 1 hour 10 minutes.

Other Sunday Meetings

After Sacrament meeting, most Mormons attend other meetings including:

  • Sunday School – 60 minutes – organized by age group from ages 12 to adult
  • Primary – for children ages 3-11
  • Nursery – for children ages 18 months to 3
  • Young Women – for girls ages 12-17
  • Relief Society – For women over 18 years
  • Priesthood – for men ages 12-adult

***
I have to admit, I love my Sunday services. It is nice to see my church friends. Each week, when I attend church, I feel refreshment and renewal. It helps me to strive and stay determined on the course back to my Heavenly Father. But, above all, I’m grateful for the opportunity I have to partake of the Sacrament and renew my covenants with the Lord. I love Him. I want to please Him.

You can find out more about Mormon Sunday Services here.

What are Mormon Women Like?

First of all, to get a small idea of what Mormon Women are like, watch this short video.

Lately, in my life, it seems like there has been a lot of talk about Mormonism and women. It has been in the media; people blog about Mormons – and women, especially, relentlessly; the Missionary Age change has allowed for women to serve missions at the age of 19. Mormon women: it’s a hot topic.

What are Mormon Women Like?

I will just answer this question with a list.
Mormon women are:

  • like women everywhere
  • nurturing
  • ambitious
  • kind
  • pretty…(seriously, I’m always astounded at how each woman I’ve met at church is beautiful.)
  • smart
  • healthy
  • at times, overwhelmed
  • striving
  • seekers
  • teachers
  • able
  • confident in themselves and in the Savior
  • sometimes afraid – and I find that when I am afraid, it is my testimony in Christ that helps me to be confident again
  • creative
  • peaceful
  • imperfect
  • kind
  • accepting
  • Daughters of God

There are more qualities that come to mind, but I want this post to be more than a list!

I have had the opportunity to know Mormon women my whole entire life. It is has been a blessing to me. I truly know what Mormon women are like. I know that we are like most other women: desirous to improve every single day. We want to be happy. We want to bring happiness to the ones we love.

In The Family: A Proclamation to the World, we learn about women.

“ALL HUMAN BEINGS—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”

I am a daughter.

Mormon women, all women, are daughters of God. When we understand this, it implies that we have a divine nature. He loves us. We are His children. We have been His daughters even before we came to this earth. He loves as we are – as women.

This is easy for me to believe and to relate to. As a parent, I have been blessed with three daughters and a son. I have love for each of them. I can see that my husband also loves each of them with all of his heart. Daughters are pretty special.

Mormon Women know that we are Daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us, and we love Him.

When the woman with the issue of blood touched the hem of Christ’s garment and was healed, he wanted to know who had touched him. She revealed herself, and his response to her was, “Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.” –Luke 8:48 Honestly, there are times when I forget that I’m a daughter of God. There are times when I get distracted and discouraged. The world around us – as positive of a message that they can try to send to women – can never seem to satisfy my soul the way that knowing I am a daughter of God, and that He loves me can.

As we, Mormon women and daughters, experience this nurturing love we receive from Heavenly Father, we desire to extend it to others. Mormon women are nurturers. I have to admit, I love this concept. I want to really explain what I mean by being a nurturer. As nurturers, we provide the climate for growth. We help our families, friends, children, spouses, and ourselves grow. As nurturers, mormon women elevate others. I take very seriously my responsibility to nurture, and I find that if I’m successful in creating a nurturing environment, not only am I able to rejoice in the accomplishment of those I serve, but I, too, am nurtured. A good, nurturing environment will promote growth for everyone, myself included.

Do Mormons believe in equality of men and women?

YES!

Again, from the proclamation:

“In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”

Men and women, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, daughters and sons are equal partners involved in God’s work.

I like to think of it this way – God has a work to do. In the scriptures, we learn:

“For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” – Moses 1:39

So, according to God, himself, His work is to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life. This is no small task.

In order to complete this work, Heavenly Father made a plan – the Plan of Salvation. He created the earth, sent Adam and Eve into the garden, and allowed them to freely choose to partake of the fruit of the tree of Knowledge. As a result of their choice, he provided a Savior. This is how God’s work is completed.

But he needs a little assistance.

In order for His work to progress, he gave Adam and Eve a commandment – to multiply and replenish the earth. (See Genesis 1:28.) He also gave them specific duties: Eve was the mother of all living (long before she became a mother!) and Adam was authorized to hold the Priesthood of God and preside with the priesthood in his family. Additionally, they received special challenges associated with their roles: Eve would bear children in sorrow. Adam would procure means to sustain his family by the sweat of his brow. The blessings and challenges associated with each role is equally important. Neither one of them trumps the duties of another. The roles and duties of men and women are complementary – they are parts of a greater sum. Together, men and women add up to help bring about God’s eternal purposes. As we work together, we also begin to experience the love and blessings that God has for each of us.

Mormon women know that they are loved equally. No one was a bigger champion for women than the Savior.

I hope that I will be able to teach my daughters of their eternal worth as daughters of God.

My Testimony

I know that I am a daughter of God, and I know that He loves me. He has blessed me and expects much of me. He has not left me powerless in this world, but has endowed me with His power. The power of the priesthood is infused in my life. I have also been blessed with the power to bear children. I know that in this way, I am like God, and I am humbled to know that He has trusted me with this Power. I know that I have been given specific gifts, challenges, blessings, and trials that will help me to come closer to Him if I will choose. I know that he roots for me, He loves me, He mourns with me during times of sadness, and that He rejoices with me in my victory.

I know and am secure in my womanhood. I know I am of great worth. I know that the blessings that Heavenly Father has in store for me may not be realized while I’m living on earth, but may be reserved for a time in the eternities. I know that God loves and has always loved all of the women on this earth: His daughters.

Mormon Temples and Secrecy

One of the most common stereotypes of Mormons is that they are too secretive. I have to admit, this has me scratching my head.

First of all, there’s the whole missionary thing. I came across this recently – it’s perfect.

Classic

Kidding aside, I have a few thoughts about the temple and the charge that Mormons are too secretive. Maybe this will clear some things up.

The Temple Is Holy
We believe the temple to be a holy place. This means it has been consecrated and set aside for a very sacred use. A temple isn’t just some nice building to look at. It isn’t the same as a Chapel. It is truly a Holy place dedicated to the Lord. If we want to have the presence of God’s spirit, then the temple must be clean – physically and spiritually.

Anciently, the tabernacle (and later Solomon’s temple) was a place where sacred ordinances were performed. There were also very strict rules on who was able to enter and perform this sacred work. The Lord taught:

“For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.” – Deuteronomy 23:14

In order to have the Lord dwell with them, the Israelites needed to have a place that was clean and set apart from the world. The Lord cannot dwell in unclean places.

Likewise, in modern-day Mormon temples, there must be a standard of spiritual and physical cleanliness. Once the temple has been consecrated, it is considered Holy. We have been instructed:

“And that no unclean thing shall be permitted to come into thy house to pollute it;” – Doctrine and Covenants 109:20

Great measures are taken to make sure that the temple remains a clean, pure, and holy place.

You can enter a Mormon temple before it is dedicated.
Temples that are currently open have been dedicated. These are the temples that require a special recommend in order to enter. However, there is a time when temples are open to the general public. After a temple has been built, but before it has been dedicated to God for it’s use as a temple, there is an “open house”. Anyone can make a reservation to tour a temple during an open house. At templeopenhouse.lds.org you can find which temples are open to the public. You can also make a reservation for a tour.

Many Religions have Holy Places
With a quick google search, you can find that many religions have holy places where most people are not able to enter. There are very holy muslim places where only people who have been authorized may enter. In Japan, you cannot enter the Ise Grand Shrine unless you are both a shinto priest or priestess and you are a member of the Imperial Family. You cannot show up at the Vatican and expect to be able to poke around everywhere – just because you want to. There are many religions with “holy places”, but perhaps they aren’t as well known.

The Mesa Temple, by me

Prevalence of Temples
Follow me for a second, but I think that the prevalence of Mormon temples is proof that we aren’t trying to be overly secretive. It isn’t as if a Mormon has to make a pilgrimage to one specific place. We are building temples everywhere.

Take a look at this page to see temples around the world. There are temples from Nigeria to New Zealand. There are currently over 125 operating temples, and more under construction. We don’t have a secretive religion. We want everyone, all over the world, to be able to participate in the chance to serve at the temple.

Check out this infographic. Click image for more information on Mormon Temples.

Why the Temple has requirements for Entrance
A temple is not like a chapel. Mormons go to church weekly at a chapel. On Sundays, we hear speakers talk on various inspirational subjects. We participate in the Sacrament. We have Sunday School. Sundays at a Mormon church are relatively familiar. Additionally, anyone is welcome to worship with any Mormon congregation on a Sunday.

Mormon temples are a little different. First of all, temples aren’t open on Sundays; they are not for Sabbath-day worship. Mormon temples are a sacred place where we make and keep sacred covenants. We believe that God covenants with His people – as He did anciently. We believe that some of these covenants need to be made in a holy place dedicated for the specific purpose of covenant-making. This is why we build temples – so everyone can have the chance to make these covenants if they wish to. We don’t make these covenants on the Sabbath, but instead make time to go to the temple during the week.

The covenants made in the temple have requirements. I like to think of it like an upper-level-college-course…many of them have prerequisites. For example, when I was in college, I majored in English. I couldn’t take the Upper-Divisional Courses like Romantic and 19th Century Poetry without first taking English 101. In order to take Advanced Writing, I had to take the basic Composition course. Additionally, I had to have a good grade in my lower-level class before I could qualify for the upper-divisional course. I couldn’t just sign up for an advanced course for the heck of it. No one would accuse a college of being “secretive” because it upheld requirements for its upper-divisional classes. These classes, like the temple, are available to anyone who wants to perform the requirements in order to attend.

Like a college course, when you attend the temple, there is something expected of you. If you sign up for a course, you choose to take it seriously or fail. The temple is a serious place with serious requirements. It is a place where covenants are made, and these covenants are not a joke. Therefore, there are “prerequisites.” You have to be prepared – spiritually and mentally – before entering the temple. There are very serious responsibilities that accompany the wonderful blessings of the temple. It would be unfair to allow someone who wasn’t ready or willing to be held responsible for the covenants of the temple to receive them – just as it would be unfair for a person expected to complete and pass calculus without first taking algebra.

Because the temple is a holy place where sacred, serious covenants are made, a high standard must be upheld. It is for these reasons that One is required to “qualify” in order to attend the temple.

Qualifications
The thing I love most about the temple is that the qualifications are based on faith. When you go to receive a temple recommend, you have a private meeting with your bishop. You don’t have to be of a certain social standing or class to enter. The Qualifications are simpler and purer. We learn in Psalms:

“Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?

He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.” – Psalms 24:3-4.

If you want to qualify to attend the temple, you don’t have to get a special haircut or walk a certain way. You don’t have to live on the hill or make loads of money. You simply need to have clean hands and a pure heart. And who determines this? You, the bishop, and the Lord. It is a private, personal matter. It is the ultimate Honor System, if you will.

***
I hope that this post has helped you to understand more about the temple, and why Mormons consider it to be so sacred. You can find out more about temples here. Additionally, If you have more questions, please, check out mormon.org where you will find more questions and answers on the temple.

Do Mormons Regard the Bible as Holy Scripture and the Word of God?

I am always happy to answer this question…YES! We do regard the Bible as Holy Scripture. We believe it is the word of God!

In fact, not only do Mormons believe the Bible is Holy Scripture, but we Love it. Well, I do anyways. I love the law, the poetry, and the prophecies of the Old Testament. I love the account of Christ’s life, the Pauline Epistles, and Revelation of the New Testament. I love to read the covenants and commandments of the Lord. I love to read about His promised blessings.

I love this quote at mormon.org –
“We see it as a powerful, important, and sacred holy record which serves as the bedrock of all Christianity.” (Mormon.org)

Mormons DO believe the Bible is the word of God. I have had various experiences with the Bible and will share a few.

Powerful
The Bible has made a powerful impact in my life. Several years ago, I was experiencing some strain in my marriage. I had felt the Holy Ghost prompting me, but it was unfamiliar because the feeling I had was that of frustration and disappointment rather than warmth. I went to my scriptures and read:

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” – Galatians 5:1

This scripture came to me with more power than any scripture I had read. It moved me to action. It helped me to realize what I needed to do in my marriage. And even though that marriage ended in divorce, this scripture has remained powerful to me – reminding me that I needed to make sure I was never yoked to sin again.

Important
The Bible is so important because in it we learn the covenants that God makes with man. We also learn the commandments. To me, this is one of the most important scripture passages:

ҦBut when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.

Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,

Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” – Matthew 22:33-40

Christ taught us the law as Jehovah in the Old Testament. He taught the Higher law as the promised Messiah in the New Testament. Even though the commandments aren’t always easy to keep, they are simple: Love God and love one another. The Bible teaches us this through the meek words of the Savior, Himself.

Sacred and Holy
Of course, the entire nature of the Bible is sacred and holy. In my mind, the most sacred and holy scriptures are recorded by Isaiah:

“For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

¶Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:2-5

This scripture teaches us about Christ. He isn’t ostentatious; he is simple. Yet, he performed the most important, loving, and essential act in our History: He bore our griefs, carried our sorrows, was wounded for our transgressions, was bruised for our iniquities, and was chastised for our peace: He preformed the atonement. This is one of my top favorite scriptures.

Oh – and if you don’t really feel moved by it through reading the scripture, just listen to Handel’s interpretation of Isaiah’s words…

I have a testimony that the Bible is the true word of God. I have read it. I have prayed about it. I have been inspired, taught, and comforted by the Bible.

If you would like to know more about what Mormons believe and the Bible, you can click here.

How do you you feel about the Bible? How has the Bible inspired you in life? Do you have a testimony that it is the Word of God?

Are Mormons Christians?

I have heard the question Are Mormons Christians asked more than once. And every time, I give the answer Yes!

Mormons are Christian.

Sometimes, I wonder the root of the confusion. So, here are a few facts that should help anyone understand the relationship Mormons have with Christ.

Jesus Christ – photo by AllAboutMormons. Click image for source.

One
The official name of the church is: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We believe in Jesus Christ. We believe that this is His church.

Two
We believe in God, the eternal father, and in His son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. (See Articles of Faith 1:1.)

This is the first thing anyone should know about Mormons. We believe in God, and we believe in Jesus Christ – His only begotten son.

Three
Not only do we believe in Jesus Christ, but we believe that He is our Savior. We believe that He has atoned for our sins, and has made it possible for us to overcome death and hell.

We believe that through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. (See Articles of Faith 1:3.)

***
I could give all sorts of examples that show how we believe in Christ, but I want to only include one more scripture plus my own testimony:

“And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” – 2 Nephi 25:26

I have been blessed, throughout my life, to have faith in Christ. When I was younger, I don’t really know what motivated my faith. In some ways, it seems like I was born with this faith. It was simple, and brought me peace as a child and young adolescent.

But unexplainable faith only lasts a short time, then it needs to be strengthened. It needs to be tested. My faith in Christ was tested as a youth. I was grateful to have it tested. I wanted to have more than a miraculous faith in Christ. I wanted to have an abiding, deep faith in Christ, that would ultimately become true knowledge.

I have come to know the Savior more over the years. I have searched for Him in the scriptures. I have also done what I can to keep my covenants with the faith that obedience will be rewarded with increased testimony. It has – my mind has been enlightened and my heart has been filled. I can’t accurately describe what I have felt, but I am confident that if you want to know your Savior, you can also experience a spiritual manifestation of His existence and His role as the Messiah.

One of the strongest testimonies I have, in regards to Jesus Christ, is that He loves us. Not only have I felt His love – through blessings and feelings. But I have also felt the love that He has for others.

A few days ago, I was in the hospital (for a hysterectomy). As I was going through recovery, the shifts for nurses changed, and I had a new nurse – Sara. She was efficient and business-like. In fact, she almost seemed cold. She wasn’t a bad nurse, but everything was just quick and to the point. It didn’t really bother me one way or another.

About an hour into her shift, she had to take me for a walk. Now, as I mentioned, I had just had a hysterectomy. Walking is important in recovery, but, as you can imagine, I wasn’t going anywhere fast. We walked, slowly, down the hall. I was feeling a little uncomfortable, and had the thought that I should ask her a question.

My nurse had an obvious accent, so it was an easy conversation starter. I asked her where she was from. And she answered: “Yugoslavia.” I have never known anyone from Yugoslavia. I told her this. And I began to ask her more questions. When did she come to the U.S? Why? She explained that she had been displaced because of the war, and she lived with her family in Germany for years first. When the war was over, she had no place to return, so she an her family moved to Phoenix.

I told her, it must be hard – to be so far from her home. She agreed. Then I asked how she had liked living in the U.S. She explained that it had been good up until this last year – her husband died five months ago.

When she said this, my heart filled with compassion for this woman. I took her hand, and said, I’m sorry. She tried to stay strong, and only looked at me. We both started crying. Laughing she said, “Oh! I didn’t mean to make you cry! I’m sorry.” I assured her that it was okay. It was a sad thing, and that I wanted to hug her. I was glad that she had told me, and She shouldn’t apologize.

She seemed relieved when I said this.

The rest of the evening went well. We talked a lot. She was warm and kind. But the thing that made me stop in my tracks was the realization that I had as we shared that first small cry: Jesus Christ (and Heavenly Father) love her so much. She is a beloved spiritual daughter. I felt compassion – not because I am some kind of loving or Christ-like person. I felt the compassion that the Savior has for her. I felt like a conduit of His love. I knew that Christ loves her and wants to bless her, and that I – through listening, crying, and loving her, was helping the Savior express the Love He has for her.

I was overwhelmed by this feeling – of the Savior’s love for this little Yugoslavian woman. I prayed for her (in my heart) immediately. I wanted to be a blessing to her. I also became cognizant of the fact that – not only does the Savior love Sara, but He loves everyone. He Loves me. I was reminded of the compassion that He has had for all of us – even to the point where He sacrificed His own comfort and even life, so that He could succor us and save us. I was reminded, while in the hall of the hospital, smiling and comforting Sara – that Jesus Christ knows each of us personally. Nothing happens in our lives that He’s not aware of. He wants us to make time for Him. He wants to bless each of us. He wants us to be happy.

I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. I know that He Lives. I know that everything that He has ever done or will do is for our sake. He is perfectly selfless. He will bless us with the best blessings, and he delights in doing so. I know that Jesus will bless us through one another or other mysterious ways. I know that we can become more aware of His love for us as we come to Him in prayer, in the scriptures, and through Service.

Do you know that Jesus Christ is your Savior? Have you felt His love? How have you felt it?

Do you have more questions for Mormons? If so, you can read more of the Mormon FAQ’s on my blog. You can also find out more about what Mormons think of Jesus Christ here. You can find out more about the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints here.

Can you tell me about Mormon customs: how you dress for church, what holidays you celebrate, etc.?

A few years ago, I worked at a French company. I was working in the U.S., but many of the people I worked with were French. It was a really great job. For the most part, I minded my business about my religion. I lived in PA, and the topic of religion just didn’t come up much during the working day. However, after time, people started to learn that I was Mormon. No big deal.

One day, the VP of my department (Jean-Pierre) found out I was a Mormon. The conversation went like this:
J-P: Wow! You are a Mormon, that is great!
Choco: Yeah. Thanks.
J-P: And you drive? I didn’t know Mormons drive. And you use the computer!
Choco: Yeah…I drive and use the computer. (I was getting confused)
J-P: But most Mormons, don’t drive. Or wear those clothes. Or make-up. And you are still Mormon?
Choco: (realizing what was going on)…You know, I think that you’re confusing Mormons for Amish. I’m not Amish. The Amish people don’t drive, use electricity. Wear make-up. Mormon…we do.
J-P: Really? I thought you didn’t drive. In the movies…
Choco: You’re thinking of the Amish. It’s okay. Mormons do all the same things anyone else does.
(by this time, another colleague who knew more about me assured J-P that I wasn’t Amish, and he was just confused. Eventually it got cleared up)

I don’t think that Jean-Pierre is the only one who gets confused about Mormon customs.

Dress
Mormons don’t really have a “dress code”, per se. For the most part, we are pretty practical. We dress appropriately for the occasion. For example, if I’m going running, I will wear running shorts, and a shirt dependent on the weather. If I’m gardening, I wear my hole-y, grubby jeans, old sneakers, and a tee-shirt. When I’m on a date with my husband, I try to look attractive (and appropriate for the activity). When I go to church, I wear my “Sunday Best” – a modest, dressy outfit. I want my clothes to reflect my devotion to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Additionally, I don’t want my clothes to be too showy – or to compete with the reverence of Sabbath-day worship.

In general, Mormons believe that our bodies are temples. The Spirit of God can dwell within each of us if we show it the proper respect. We believe that dressing in a modest, neat, and nice way will help to keep the Spirit of God with us. We try to be like the saints in the Book of Mormon:

“And they did impart of their substance, every man according to that which he had, to the poor, and the needy, and the sick, and the afflicted; and they did not wear costly apparel, yet they were neat and comely.” – Alma 1:27

You can see that there is not a strict rule on dress – for Sunday or otherwise. We simply try to dress in a way that is neat, comely. We try to treat each activity we engage in appropriately – and that is reflected by the way we dress.

Holidays
Mormons love their holidays. We celebrate Easter and Christmas. These are the most important Holidays, and you will always see LDS churches throughout the world pay attention to these holidays.

Christmas and Easter are important to Mormons.

We also celebrate various national and cultural holidays. I live in the U.S. Our family loves to celebrate New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. I feel like I’m missing something. President’s Day. MLK Day. There are so many!

I’m dressed up in my Halloween Garb…

There is no “official” way to celebrate a holiday. It is up to each family. But I think that Holidays are important to Mormons because often they promote harmony and unity in the home. As a mother, I love the Holidays our family celebrates. These Holidays promote bonding and forge happy memories.

We also celebrate Birthdays, Anniversaries, and well…anything that gives us a chance to have fun, play games, eat, and maybe have a little ice cream. 😉

Find out more about Mormon Customs (etc) here.

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