A new Mormon temple is being constructed near Paris. As it takes shape, it’s beauty and majesty will become apparent. Those who decide to attend the temple open house before its dedication as a House of God will feel the spirit of God inside. They will also see the quality and care taken in its construction, design and appointments. They will be surprised to learn that no debt is incurred when a Mormon temple is built.
Mormon temples — by the end of 2012 there were 140 in operation worldwide and others under construction — are built and maintained with funding provided by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes mistakenly called the “Mormon Church.” There is a special “temple fund” to which Latter-day Saints may donate, but most of the money comes from “tithing.”
A “tithe” means one-tenth, and Mormons pay one-tenth of their income to the Church of Jesus Christ. Tithes are paid confidentially, so no one else in a congregation except the leadership knows how much another member pays in offerings. It is true that a member of the LDS Church must be a full tithe-payer in order to be worthy to enter a temple of God. Paying tithing is never a real sacrifice, because the Lord blesses those who keep this law in such miraculous ways, the full tithe-payer always comes out ahead. People who feel they cannot afford to pay tithing do not understand this, and they should experiment upon this commandment and see if the Lord will not open the windows of heaven and pour them out a blessing (Malachi 3).
The tithing of the Saints does more than pay for temple construction, maintenance and operation. The Church of Jesus Christ is the same all over the world. You can attend a Sunday School Gospel Doctrine class in New York one Sunday and receive the next scheduled lesson the following Sunday in Nairobi. Tithing pays for all the manuals and materials used by Mormons all over the world.
The LDS Church has a vast educational system that is also supported by tithing. The three university campuses (Brigham Young University of Utah, Idaho, and Hawaii) and one business college are able to keep their tuition very low. The LDS Church runs seminary and institute programs for high school students and college students to study the scriptures, and these often use trained staff and are held in separate buildings near campuses.
The LDS Church builds a meetinghouse every week somewhere in the world. These are also paid for with tithing. Although Mormon missionaries support themselves on their missions. The Church pays for their training and transportation and supports each mission’s operational costs. There were 58,000 LDS missionaries in the fall of 2012, but that force was expected to swell, as the missionary service age was lowered to 18 (from 19) for men and 19 (from 21) for women as of October 2012.
Mormon Giving Does not Stop There
The first Sunday of each month is called “Fast Sunday” in the LDS Church. Any child will tell you that it’s not because time goes by faster, because Mormons fast for two meals or 24 hours. They donate the money they would have spent on food to the care of the poor and needy.
The Church of Jesus Christ operates a huge and remarkable welfare program for the benefit of its own poor, and for disaster relief worldwide.
At the heart of the welfare system is a recently opened facility in Salt Lake City, the Bishop’s Central Storehouse. It warehouses mountains of food and supplies, which are distributed to central storehouses in five other regions of the United States and Canada. From those five regional storehouses, food and goods are again distributed to more than 200 smaller bishops’ storehouses, to be used for the Church’s welfare system. The Bishop’s Central Storehouse also keeps emergency equipment and supplies that can be instantly dispatched whenever a catastrophic disaster occurs.
The size of the Bishop’s Central Storehouse gives a sense of scale to Mormon welfare and humanitarian efforts. Situated on 35 acres, the building’s current footprint is 570,391 square feet, with plans to add 100,000 more. The total planned capacity of the building is 65,000 pallets, and it stocks hundreds of foods—from corn, beans, and cereals to cheese, ice cream, and peanut butter—as well as toiletries, tools, and electric generators. It has its own trucking company, complete with nearly 50 tractors and 100 trailers, as well as a one-year supply of fuel, parts, and tires for the vehicles. The facility has even been built to withstand a 7.5-magnitude earthquake. 
Mormons do more than donate fast offerings (sometimes very generous fast offerings) to this cause. They also volunteer labor for the welfare program, from harvesting crops to canning peaches.
LDS Philanthropies is the Humanitarian Aid arm of the Church. It has many ongoing projects and is often the first to arrive and last to leave when disaster strikes anywhere in the world. By partnering with such organizations as the Red Cross and Islamic Relief, it is able to facilitate the delivery of relief supplies, which stand at the ready at all times. Because of the volunteer service of Latter-day Saints, quilts are hand-sewn, hygiene kits assembled, canned goods packed, baby kits packaged, all standing ready to be shipped. Because of this volunteer service, 100% of monetary donations goes for aid instead of overhead.
Lest you think that Mormons are by now worn out and penniless, there is more. They may donate to a number of specific funds, including the Perpetual Education Fund, which loans money to returned missionaries from poorer countries, enabling them to get a superior education. Once they are in their vocations, they reimburse the fund so that others may benefit.
Mormons give more in time and money than any other group in the United States and probably the world. They do it in order to follow the admonition of Jesus Christ, that when you are in the service of your fellow beings, you are in the service of God.
Many people are unfamiliar with what actually takes place during a worship service in a chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Research also shows that there are many people who feel that they are not welcomed inside an LDS chapel to worship with Latter-day Saints to be able to observe for themselves that Mormon worship is focused on the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is often the basis for misunderstandings among communities where Latter-day Saints live and leads many to believe that the close-knit ties of the Latter-day Saint community is both clannish and secretive. Part of this misconception may be caused by the differences between worship services in LDS chapels and temple worship. All are invited to attend services in LDS chapels, but only those members of The Church of Jesus Christ who are deemed worthy and hold a valid temple recommend are permitted to enter the sacred temple – the House of the Lord.
The infographic below is an excellent comparison of worship in an LDS chapel and temple worship.
You are invited to worship with a local LDS congregation
The argument about same-sex marriage has been going on for years now. Many Christian churches in the United States have stood up in support of same-sex marriage, while the few who have resisted its legalization, knowing that redefining the institution of marriage will have profound implications throughout our society, are viewed as old-fashioned, backward, behind-the-times bigots.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often called Mormons) are becoming familiar with the accusation that because they believe in defending the traditional view of marriage as a physical, emotional, and spiritual union for life between a man and a woman, they are ignorant diehards, refusing to accept the changing times and obstinately judging all people who live a homosexual lifestyle as evil sinners.
Mormon doctrine has never taught that those who struggle with or embrace homosexuality are evil. It does teach that homosexual acts are serious sins, but not that those who engage in them should be treated poorly, be stripped of their rights, or ostracized. It is frustrating as faithful members of the Mormon Church, who are good people, are labeled as haters and extremists when they are simply trying to defend what they regard as a sacred institution which was organized by God as the pattern for His children to live by on this earth.
As many Christian denominations embrace the new definition of marriage, a few hold strong to their belief that the institution of marriage is beyond the power of both church and state. “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder,” says Mark 10:9. God has decreed what marriage is. Who is man to try and alter God’s command?
The Church of England has taken a stance on the issue which has surprised a few. While they have been supportive of rights for same-sex couples, they remain firmly opposed to the government’s involvement and legally redefining marriage as a union between any two people.
Freedom of religion, which was protected under the United States Constitution, would be threatened with the legalization of same-sex marriage. Ecclesiastical leaders opposed to same-sex marriage would suddenly be required, by law, to perform these unions when asked, though it goes against their most sacred religious beliefs.
As the Church of England takes its own stand, its leaders point out that the laws regarding same-sex marriage “have not been thought through and are not legally sound.” A further explanation of the church’s objection was offered by Bishop of Leicester Tim Steve:
Marriage is not the property of the Church any more than it is the property of the Government. It is about a mutually faithful physical relationship between a man and a woman.” He warned, despite government claims of protection for churches, “If you do what the Government say they are going to do, you can no longer define marriage in that way. It becomes hollowed out, and about a relationship between two people, to be defined on a case-by-case basis.” Imposed same sex marriage would precipitate the “gradual unravelling of the Church of England which is a very high cost for the stability of society.
The Church of England gave its official response to the government’s plan of instituting same-sex marriage. They said the plan would “alter the intrinsic nature of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, as enshrined in human institutions throughout history.” The response further pointed out that marriage benefits society by “promoting mutuality and fidelity, but also by acknowledging an underlying biological complementarity which, for many, includes the possibility of procreation.” The Church of England showed the many flaws in the government’s plan, like the problem of defining adultery and consummation, the superfluous allowing of continued civil partnerships for same-sex couples if same-sex marriage were legalized, the difficulties of protecting individual church’s beliefs if the law is opposed to their beliefs, and that redefining marriage for “ideological reasons” would be “divisive and deliver no obvious legal gains given the rights already conferred by civil partnerships.”
The Church of England went on to say, “It is important to be clear that insistence on the traditional understanding of marriage is not a case of knee-jerk resistance to change but is based on a conviction that the consequences of change will not be beneficial for society as a whole.”
Redefining what the Lord Himself has declared marriage to be will bring dire consequences for our society, to which the members of that society remain determinedly oblivious. They continue to insist that all people should be equal, when what they mean is, “all people should be and behave like me,” rather than “each person should be free to follow his or her own system of belief.” If we continue to stamp out the founding principles of our religion and society, there will be nothing left to stand on, and the system which has held us together will fall apart.
Gay issues are a hot button item for the media. But reports are often one-sided, resulting in an onslaught of accusations, name-calling and inaccurate information.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon or LDS) has been called out because of supporting Proposition 8 in California. Sadly, there has been broad misunderstanding about what Mormons believe about same-gender attraction (SGA).
There are several thousand Church members with same-gender attraction. They are valued and welcome to fully participate. However, the moral standards of sexual purity outside of traditional marriage are expected whether a person is heterosexual or SGA. In the manual, God Loveth His Children, it explains:
“You are a son or daughter of God, and our hearts reach out to you in warmth and affection. Notwithstanding your present same-gender attractions, you can be happy during this life, lead a morally clean life, perform meaningful service in the Church, enjoy full fellowship with your fellow Saints, and ultimately receive all the blessings of eternal life.
The Book of Mormon prophet Nephi voiced feelings we all have when he acknowledged that he did not “know the meaning of all things.” But he testified, “I know that [God] loveth his children” (1 Nephi 11:17). God does indeed love all His children. Many questions, however, including some related to same-gender attractions, must await a future answer, even in the next life. But God has revealed simple, unchanging truths to guide us. He loves all His children, and because He loves you, you can trust Him.”
While the LDS Church believes that every person should have an equal right to benefits and housing, changing the definition of marriage falls into a different category. Central to Mormonism is the belief that marriages and families are eternal. Following is the official statement regarding SGA marriages:
“We of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reach out with understanding and respect for individuals who are attracted to those of the same gender. We realize there may be great loneliness in their lives but there must also be recognition of what is right before the Lord.
As a doctrinal principle, based on sacred scripture, we affirm that marriage between a man and a woman is essential to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. The powers of procreation are to be exercised only between a man and a woman lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
Any other sexual relations, including those between persons of the same gender, undermine the divinely created institution of the family. The Church accordingly favors measures that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman and that do not confer legal status on any other sexual relationship.”
Those SGA groups fighting for a new definition of marriage want to change what God declared. Many church members–not just LDS–do not want that definition altered. Since every adult is entitled to be married in the traditional way, it is not truly a matter of civil rights—but a demand for special rights and a violation of religious rights. This debate is a deeply rooted moral issue that would force the change of the structure of traditional marriage and the family, and compromise the right to conscience of the majority. It is short-sighted to believe there would not be a societal impact down the road.
In an interview with Elder Dallin Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and a retired attorney, explains why the LDS Church has taken a position on the definition of marriage:
“This is much bigger than just a question of whether or not society should be more tolerant of the homosexual lifestyle. Over past years we have seen unrelenting pressure from advocates of that lifestyle to accept as normal what is not normal, and to characterize those who disagree as narrow-minded, bigoted and unreasonable. Such advocates are quick to demand freedom of speech and thought for themselves, but equally quick to criticize those with a different view and, if possible, to silence them by applying labels like “homophobic.”
In at least one country where homosexual activists have won major concessions, we have even seen a church pastor threatened with prison for preaching from the pulpit that homosexual behavior is sinful. Given these trends, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must take a stand on doctrine and principle. This is more than a social issue — ultimately it may be a test of our most basic religious freedoms to teach what we know our Father in Heaven wants us to teach.”
Learn more about Mormons
Prayer is our way of directly communicating with God. Its history stretches back to Adam and Eve, when they were commanded to call upon God in prayer and to offer sacrifices (Moses 5:4–8). Prayer is not listed as a specific commandment anywhere in the Bible, but it accompanied sacrifice and many faithful figures in the Old Testament are distinguished as having been focused on prayer (Hannah, David in his Psalms, Solomon, Hezekiah, Daniel, and many others. The custom was to pray three times a day and before eating.
The pattern of prayer as recorded in the Bible is somewhat varied. People stood, knelt, or lay prostrate. Often the hands were “spread forth to heaven.” The only record of Christ’s attitude while praying was in the Garden of Gethsemane where he first knelt, then fell on his face on the ground (Luke 22:41, Matthew 26:39). It is also recorded that the Lord often prayed on mountains or in other solitary places.
The Bible dictionary in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ edition of the King James Version of the Bible says about prayer:
As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are his children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part. Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work, and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.
The Bible teaches Christians to pray in Christ’s name (John 14:13–14; 15:7, 16; 16:23–24). The same Bible dictionary referenced above defines what this means. In order to pray in Christ’s name, we must make sure our mind is the mind of Christ and that we are truly seeking His will. We live our lives according to His commandments and try to be like Him. When we ask for things in prayer, we recognize that God’s will is more important than ours, and sometimes we do not see His wisdom in granting or withholding what we seek.
Mormon doctrine (of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) also teaches that “as you make a habit of approaching God in prayer, you will come to know Him and draw ever nearer to Him. Your desires will become more like His” (“Prayer,” True to the Faith).
Unlike some Christian denominations, Latter-day Saints do not use rote prayers, with only a few exceptions. Set prayers are used in some specific ordinances, but all other prayers are left up to the person offering that prayer. Mormon doctrine does not teach that Saints intercede on our behalf. The only mediator is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. That is why we pray in His name, but we always pray to God. God is a loving Heavenly Father who has our happiness as a major concern. He wants us to talk to Him and tell Him how we are feeling.
Here are some general guidelines that Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) use in offering prayers (“Prayer,” True to the Faith):
- Make prayers meaningful
- Use language that shows love, respect, reverence and closeness
- Always give thanks to your Heavenly Father
- Seek Heavenly Father’s guidance and strength in all you do
- Remember the needs of others as you pray
- When you make a request through prayer, do all you can to assist in its being granted.
The scriptures tell us continually that we can pray anytime and anywhere we need to, but we should seek out private places to pour out our hearts to God when we can. You will find it especially meaningful and helpful if you pray at least morning and night. It is good to ask God for help through your day and then to thank Him for that help and to reflect on your blessings at the end of your day.
It is important to listen after you pray. Prayer is a conversation with God. Listen for His part of the conversation.
In addition to personal prayers, you will find great strength if you also pray as a family. It builds unity to hear family members praying for others’ specific needs.
God will always answer your prayers. Sometimes you may not receive the answer you want, but He will answer. Make sure you listen with your heart for these answers so you can recognize them when they come.
I know that prayer works. God answers my prayers every day. I cherish the opportunities I have to speak with Him and to draw closer to Him. I pray when I am by myself, and I pray when I am surrounded by people. You can always have a prayer in your heart. The more you communicate with God and try to listen to His responses, the more frequently and powerfully you will see His guiding hand in your life. Always pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Mediator. He intercedes on our behalf through the power of His atonement.
The term “temple” has a variety of meanings to various religions. According to Judaism101, a synagogue is a place of worship and study and a “town hall.” It is, then, what Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) call a meetinghouse. To a reform Jewish person, a temple is the same as a synagogue, although other branches of Judaism use the term only for the ancient temples. For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often nicknamed “Mormons”), a temple fits the definition of the ancient temples, but Latter-day Saint temples continue to be built today.
Latter-day Saint temples are not just meetinghouses. In fact, they are closed on Sundays. Regular “Mormon” meetinghouses are open to the public and host not just the worship service and classes, but also socials and various weekday activities. However, Latter-day Saint temples are not open to the public. To enter a “Mormon” temple, one must be a member in good standing. This means they must be living moral lives according to the standards of the temple. People enter the temple to perform special religious ordinances, to make covenants, and to take some quiet hours away from the world.
In most cases, Mormons must be adults to enter the temple. Children enter only when there has been an adoption or when the parents are being married for eternity after having been previously married just for this life, in a regular civil ceremony. In these cases, the children are sealed to the parents and the family unit is then sealed together for eternity. Teenagers may come to the temple to do proxy baptisms, which will be explained later in the article. Adult men generally enter the temple for the first time just prior to leaving on a volunteer mission for the church at age nineteen. Women usually enter for the first time before leaving on their missions as well, or just before their wedding if they don’t serve a mission. New adult converts may go to the temple one year after their baptism, if they are worthy. Men and women who do not marry or serve missions may first enter whenever they and their leaders feel they are ready.
The word “endowment” means, “gift.” During the ordinance of the endowment in Latter-day Saint temples, members learn about God’s plan for them and about the atonement of Jesus. They begin to understand what Heaven is like and what they need to do to receive exaltation. They covenant with God to keep the higher law He has revealed. It is not true that Mormons pretend to slit their throats or that they cut themselves to avoid the need for the atonement. Everything in the temple points to Jesus’ atonement for us as the only way to return home to God.
Sealings are one of the great blessings of Latter-day Saint temples. Most marriages are for this life only and most Christian denominations’ doctrines teach that when we reach heaven, we have our children and spouses taken from us. Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) believe that God does not believe in divorce and wants His children to retain their families forever. Marriages in the temple are done for eternity and children born to those families belong to their parents and siblings forever. The temple ceremony joins us to all our ancestors in an unbroken chain of love. At funerals, comments about relatives being reunited in heaven are common, because God has planted the knowledge in our hearts that families are meant to be forever.
The New Testament teaches us that everyone must accept Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, be baptized, and keep the commandments. However, many people did not have that opportunity during their lifetime. Children sometimes die too young to make a choice for themselves, and adults often do not receive a testimony of Jesus during their lives.
“Mormons” do not believe God punishes people for things they could not control, and so there must be a way to give them the opportunity after death to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior if they didn’t have that opportunity before death. Those who died without the opportunity to be baptized by a person with the proper priesthood authority must have that opportunity. However, baptism is an ordinance that must be performed on earth, and so “Mormons” carry out proxy baptisms in Latter-day Saint temples. This means that a live person stands in for the deceased person and performs the ordinance on their behalf. Mormons cannot ask permission of their deceased ancestors to perform ordinances on their behalf, but their ancestors are also not forced to accept any ordinances performed for them. Each person has the freedom to choose to accept or reject any work done on his or her behalf.
As synagogues serve as the focal point of a Jewish community, so to Latter-day Saint temples serve as the focus of the Mormon religion. Latter-day Saints believe the most important work they will ever do on this earth takes place in temples. However, temples serve a different purpose than synagogues do. Latter-day Saint temples are a way to become closer to God and to serve Him by making covenants with Him. Synagogues are also holy places of worship, but serve a slightly different purpose within their communities than temples do in the Latter-day Saints community.
It always makes me sad when I hear children say they haven’t a father or mother, meaning the parent has died. Of course they have a father and a mother. God gave them those parents and intended for them all to be a family. I find that of all the great eternal truths that have been lost to most over the centuries, this is one of the saddest to have lost. My relationship to my deceased family members is still strong.
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often misnamed the “Mormon Church”), I believe that most people know in their hearts that God meant families to be together forever. At funerals, we frequently hear people talking about how the deceased is with her husband again or reassuring the grieving that everyone will see each other again in Heaven. God has planted in our hearts the knowledge that families are meant to be forever.
One of God’s first acts was to create families. He made it very clear to Adam that his wife was to be a priority in Adam’s life. God intended families to play a defining role in the world’s structure, and he gave parents a powerful love for their children. Why would anyone who believed Heaven is wonderful and joyful believe he would enjoy being there without his family? Should our first assignment in Heaven be to fall out of love with our spouses and children and to endure a divorce? Of course not. If Heaven has everything it needs to make me happy, it has to allow me to continue to be part of my family while I’m there. Our hearts know it because God put it in our hearts. I knew it long before I ever heard of Mormonism (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and even wrote a story about it in school as a child.
My parents are both dead. I grieved, of course, and I still miss them and what their presence on earth meant to me. I carry with me the lessons they taught me. I am reassured, however, to know they are in Heaven, waiting for me to join them someday. I know this through Mormon doctrine. Someday the long, complex talk of books and history they enjoyed sharing with me will resume, not among people who dimly remember caring about each other once, but as a family. Family is a concept already placed in our hearts and what is in our hearts and our minds will go with us when we die.
What is my relationship to my deceased parents today? Before my mother died, I was living across the country. She had experienced a stroke and could no longer talk or really communicate with me directly. Today, she can’t communicate with me directly, either, but that doesn’t make her any less my mom than when she was on Earth. In time, we’ll be together, the effects of her stroke will be gone, and we’ll pick up where we left off—only in a happier place.
Latter-day Saints (or “Mormons”—a nickname for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) believe that death is the third stage of eternal life. The first stage took place before we were born, when we lived with our Heavenly Father and prepared for the second stage, which is taking place here on Earth. The third stage is our eternal lives after death. Mormons believe that we came to Earth to learn the gospel, to gain bodies and families, to develop faith, to make choices, and to be tested.
In order to return home to God, we have to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and work to demonstrate the depth of our faith and love: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
However, most of the world’s population never had an opportunity to learn of Christ. Many lived before He was born or in places that did not receive the gospel. Many today, although they have heard of God, have not found the fulness of the gospel—there are thousands of churches and it can be overwhelming for a person to find where God wants him or her to be. Others never received a confirming testimony from the Holy Ghost. There is no way for anyone to judge who has or has not received that confirming testimony.
Since we have been commanded to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and to be baptized, this creates a problem for Christians who believe God is fair and loving. For Mormons, however, there isn’t a contradiction at all. Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) believe God took all that into consideration when He made His plan. He allowed for people who die without the gospel to be taught it after death. (The New Testament tells of Jesus preaching to the spirits who have died.) He arranged for members of His church to be baptized by proxy for those people, if—and only if—those people choose to accept the gospel. Even when a person knows something is true, he sometimes rejects it. Mormons have no way of knowing who did and did not accept the gospel, and so the names are never counted on church records as members. If a person rejects the ordinances done on his behalf, it is as if they never happened.
Before my father died, I asked him and my mother about these proxy baptisms. They were not Mormons. My father said, “If it’s true and they’re valid, I’ll be desperate to have them done. If they aren’t, God isn’t going to pay any more attention to them than He does to anything else that isn’t true. I have nothing to lose, so go right ahead.”
For Mormons, this process of providing proxy baptisms is an act of love for their ancestors. It would be utterly cruel to condemn a newborn baby for dying before baptism when God chose the time of death for the child. It would be cruel to forever condemn a person born where no word of Jesus ever came—when God chose the place and time the person was born. God is not a cruel God. He loves us and wants us to be with Him forever. He has provided us with every opportunity to receive the gospel and to choose whether or not to accept it. For me, the proxy work I do for my ancestors is a work of love for them, a service to give to the family I will have for all eternity.
While Mormons don’t have patron saints, they do have a connection to those who have died. We are all part of God’s large and wonderful family and families are supposed to take care of each other—so we do.
Philosophers have argued the question “What is truth?” through the ages and many still argue this question today. If you do not have any kind of faith, then it is easy to say there is no absolute truth and, even if there were, there is no way to know what that absolute truth is. Some scientists may argue that science is the only absolute truth, but any good scientist knows that the deeper you delve into something, the less concrete it becomes. We have laws of physics that govern our world, but when you go to the microscopic level or to the universal level (e.g. black holes), these laws that we have so carefully discovered and meticulously compiled don’t hold up.
I believe that there is absolute, eternal truth. I believe that God knows this absolute truth and that He has given us laws (commandments) to follow which help us to abide by these truths, even if we sometimes cannot comprehend what those truths are.
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (which church is frequently misnamed the “Mormon Church”), I believe that God has a plan for each of His children which extends far beyond this temporal life. I believe that God created each of us as spirit children before He created this world for us, where we come to gain experience and learn to choose right from wrong. It is my personal belief that God not only is absolute truth, but that He is also bound by it. However, His understanding of these eternal laws is far beyond our current comprehension. He can seemingly bend and break the laws we understand because He has a comprehensive understanding of the laws beyond those laws.
What God gives us in this life is what we need to know to get through this stage of our existence. He gives us commandments and consequences for keeping or breaking those commandments. Thus, on a much smaller level, we learn these absolute truths by experience. We learn to choose right from wrong, to accept and follow or reject these absolute truths, but the consequences of our actions teach us that the outcomes are predictable and absolute, if not always immediate.
The doctrine of learning a little bit at a time is found in the Holy Scriptures: “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (Isaiah 28:9–10).
Absolute truth exists, but we have difficulty understanding it. Accepting that there is absolute truth is a matter of faith in this life. However, once we exercise that faith and test it, we can come to know through experience that these things are true, and that faith can turn into knowledge. God does not expect or want us to follow Him blindly. It does take a leap of faith, but once we take that leap, He will confirm the truth of our actions to us. Alma, a prophet in the ancient Americas, taught:
And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true. . . . Now, as I said concerning faith—that it was not a perfect knowledge—even so it is with my words. Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge.
And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, ye must needs know that the seed is good. And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing (Alma 32: 21, 26, 33–34).
I can truly testify that this process works. It is because of my continued experience and success with this process that I can say with all surety that I know God lives. I know that His Son, Jesus Christ, is the Savior and Redeemer of mankind. I know that God loves me because He expresses that love to me when I pray to Him in faith. We can all have this knowledge. He wants us to have this knowledge. Test it out and you will come to know this absolute truth for yourself.
Article Written By Doris
If you were to look at a random crowd, could you pick out a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often referred to as Mormons or LDS)? Probably not. There is no such thing as the Mormon “norm”—we come in all sizes, dress styles, professions, ages and races.
The distinguishing feature of Mormons is not how we look, but who we are. Mormonism isn’t just a Sunday religion; it’s a way of life. Some people know us because of the Mormon belief to adhere to the Word of Wisdom, a health code that forbids the use of coffee, tea, alcohol, tobacco and harmful substances. Mormons pay a full tithe of 10 percent, follow the Ten Commandments and live by the higher laws that the Lord Jesus Christ established in His Church. This includes abstinence from extra-marital sex and absolute fidelity in marriage.
But it’s not what we don’t do that defines us. Guided by Christ-centered principles, our lives are focused on service and self improvement instead of self-gratification. We are optimistic, forward-looking, and strive to build strong families that contribute to the greater good of our communities. The 13th Article of Faith, written by Joseph Smith, the first Mormon prophet, explains the attributes we want to have:
We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous and in doing good to all men. Indeed we may say we follow the admonition of Paul. We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things and hope to be able to endure all things.
If there is anything virtuous, lovely, of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
A living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, heads the Church and provides guidance based upon direct revelation that is pertinent to the needs of our time. But a central Mormon belief is that each person has free agency (free will). It is up to individuals whether or not to follow church leaders or doctrine.
How does all this translate into daily living? Three distinguished characteristics motivate daily actions.
Families are ordained of God
Mormons believe that families can be together forever—including those who have gone before. For this reason there is an emphasis on genealogy and temple work to perform baptisms for those who were unable to follow that commandment at the time they lived. Other ordinances seal family members, living and dead, together to form eternal family units. Another belief is that parenthood is a sacred blessing and obligation. The Family: A proclamation to the World states:
Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.
Mormons are a worshipful people
Members are encouraged to attend three-hour Sunday meetings and to have family and individual prayer and scripture study every day. Another suggestion is to hold weekly Family Home Evening to discuss family issues, learn gospel principles and enjoy quality time together. Those members of the church who are worthy are able to attend the temple, where they make solemn covenants to build the kingdom of God.
Mormons care for each other and their community
A beautiful tenet of Mormonism is that we care for one another. I have served others and also benefited many times from the Home Teaching and Visiting Teaching programs which are designed to take care of the needs of each individual. Home teachers (men) are assigned a few families to visit and take a gospel message each month. Visiting teachers (women) are assigned to visit and teach the sisters. If a need arises, members are able to call their home or visiting teacher for help. Close bonds are created as this process takes place month after month. This system also provides a way to instantly connect in case of a disaster. People are accounted for very quickly when each home teacher contacts those he visits and reports to leaders. The care doesn’t end with the church family. Millions of dollars and hours have been spent in humanitarian aid and community service. Such projects are a manifestation of the Mormon belief in Christ’s words when he said in Matthew 25:40:
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
The “Priesthood,” according to the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is the power and authority of God delegated to men to act in His sacred name for the blessing of His children. (See True to the Faith, Priesthood).
The Priesthood is one of the important elements of the true church and of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is God’s power, the governing power of the universe. Through the Priesthood all things were created. The Church puts much emphasis on the importance of the Priesthood. The delegation of this authority from God to those who are authorized servants of God will validate every ordinance of the gospel performed in the Church God and in His most sacred place of worship, the temple.
God personally chooses His servants to act in His name and to hold the Priesthood. For example, in the New Testament the Lord said,
Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. (New Testament, John 15:14-16).
Those who hold the Priesthood are qualified of God, meaning they live in harmony with the teachings of the fullness of His everlasting gospel. They are endeavoring to be an example of righteousness to all people, since they are authorized representatives of God. In the Church of Jesus Christ, and according to instruction received from God through direct revelation, this sacred priesthood is divided into two parts: the Aaronic Priesthood and the Melchizedek Priesthood.
The Aaronic Priesthood is a preparatory priesthood that precedes the greater, which is the Melchizedek Priesthood.
It is called the lesser priesthood because it is an appendage to the greater, or the Melchizedek Priesthood, and has power in administering outward ordinances. The power and authority of the lesser, or Aaronic Priesthood, is to hold the keys of the ministering of angels, and to administer in outward ordinances, the letter of the gospel, the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, agreeable to the covenants and commandments. (Doctrine and Covenants, 107:14, 20).
Worthy male members of the Church beginning at age 12 are given the responsibility to hold the Aaronic priesthood and to administer the outward ordinances of the gospel, such as the passing, preparing, and blessing of the sacred emblems of the Sacrament. There are different offices in the Aaronic priesthood namely: Bishop (who is the leader of a Mormon congregation), Deacon (ages 12 and13), Teacher (ages 14 and 15), and Priest (ages 16 and 17).
The Melchizedek Priesthood covers all of the functions of the Aaronic priesthood and then adds to it.
The power and authority of the higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood, is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church—To have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened unto them, to commune with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant (Doctrine and Covenants 107:18-19).
As early as at the age of 18, male members of the Church are being prepared to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and be ordained an Elder, one of its offices. Bishops and higher leaders hold the office of High Priest. Other offices are Apostle, Seventy, and Patriarch.
Under God’s direction, Priesthood power is administered to those who are sick and afflicted by the laying on of hands. Elders in the LDS Church use this power as it was used by the apostles of old. They may confer the gift of the Holy Ghost, heal under the direction of God through the Holy Ghost, ordain others to the higher priesthood, cast out evil spirits, or give prophetic counsel. An Elder who holds the higher priesthood uses it within his realm of responsibility, often called one’s “stewardship,” since God’s house is a house of order. Therefore, a father, who has stewardship over his family, may give priesthood blessings to his wife and children by the laying on of hands. Thus, the healing power of God may be called upon at a time of illness, or to comfort the weary.
Once in a lifetime, each member of the Church is able to avail him/her-self of a “Patriarchal Blessing,” which can only be given by a man who is a “Patriarch,” an office of the Melchizedek Priesthood. There is only one patriarch called for each stake in the LDS Church. (A stake is a group of congregations administered by called stake leaders.) A patriarchal blessing reveals one’s lineage in Israel and offers prophetic advice as a map for one’s life.
1) See True to the Faith, Priesthood
2) New Testament, John 15:14-16
3) Doctrine and Covenants, 107:14, 20
4) Doctrine and Covenants 107:18-19