Anyway, with the whole Mitt Romney thing going on and my love of politics, I find myself watching newscasters and reading columnists defining me in totally inaccurate ways. I get defensive and sometimes yell at the TV and wonder about the media's sources. So, I decided to define myself. I'm not speaking for the LDS Church, or Mormons everywhere or anything. It says in Matthew that "ye shall know them by their fruits" and I'm as fruity as anyone, so I'll tell you (in a nutshell) what I believe.
First, let me say we believe that people have the right to worship "according to the dictates of their own conscience...let them worship how, when or what they may." That's one of our Articles of Faith. I believe it wholeheartedly, so I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything or change any one's mind. (I know we're famous for zealous missionary work, but people can get a little over enthusiastic about sharing, in my opinion.)
Here's where I'm coming from: I've gone to church my whole life, at least once a week and twice on Sunday. I've been taught by parents and leaders who believe our doctrine. Our church has a lay clergy, which means nobody went to theology school and nobody gets paid. We all serve as teachers, music leaders, and administrators of children's and teenage programs, Sunday School, the men's and women's organizations and everything that goes with those responsibilities. We're all taught to study the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and other good books at church and as families, which gave me a great foundation for learning on my own. I played the piano in Sunday School when I was 12, and started teaching 3-year-olds when I was 16, and I've served in the church, and attended church all the time since then. I think my 58 years of experience gives me the right to say what Mormons believe.
- We believe in a literal God. I pray to Him, I know he knows me and hears my prayers because I've had answers.
- We believe in Jesus Christ. I have studied his teachings in the New Testament, and I try to live the way he taught, and serve and love others as he demonstrated. That makes me a follower, or a disciple. In Acts 11:26, disciples were called Christians. We are Christians. I get SO angry and frustrated when the media says we're not...(very un-Christian-like, I know.)
- We believe in the Holy Ghost. We believe that God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost are separate beings. The Holy Ghost is a spirit that testifies of Christ, teaches us personally, prompts us to do the right thing, reminds us not to do the wrong thing, warns us and comforts us. Jesus called him "the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost," in John 14:26. He reveals truth to us individually. We refer to it as personal revelation, which is a feeling, or a knowledge in our hearts and minds of what we ought to do in a given situation. I've experienced that as answers to my prayers, and at other times. It's very quiet, but sure. Other people might call it intuition, deja vu, or a premonition.
- We believe that God wants us to be happy. That is why he has given us commandments. The commandments are not a bunch of arbitrary rules. They are to protect us from unhappiness, and lead us in a direction that will bring us joy and peace.
It's like a parent telling a child that under no circumstance should he climb on the railing. It's a commandment. The kid might think it looks fun, and besides, other kids do it and nothing happens to them. The parent knows that the child could experience pain, and suffering. When the child is more experienced, he will realize that the rule was for his protection, not to limit his freedom, or make him a dork.
- We believe that we are children of God and he loves us. I grew up with a father who loved me, and wanted to protect me and give me opportunities, so I can understand God as a loving Heavenly Father. Others who grew up with very strict, or cruel fathers might imagine God with that personality. As I have read His words, I have come to know Him (like we get to know other authors) and as I have prayed sincerely to Him, I have felt His presence and His love. That's how I know it. Not because others have told me, but because I've experienced it myself. God is good.
- "We believe that the family is ordained of God, that marriage between one man and one woman is central to His plan. We believe that children are entitled to birth between the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ." (from The Family Proclamation)
- We believe in forgiveness and repentance. That assumes that we aren't all following all the principles and practices we have been taught. It's REALLY ANNOYING to have my church judged by all the imperfect people who are members!!! Don't Catholics or Presbyterians ever sin??? Just because we're a bunch of hypocrites like everyone else, why do we get all the news coverage? (Forgive me.)
- We believe in eternal life. That means we lived before we were born and that we live after we die. If this wasn't a principle in my faith, I would have made it up for myself. I can't fathom believing anything else.
- We believe that nobody is going to hell just because they didn't hear about Jesus in this life, or because they died before they were baptized. Everybody gets a chance. Life may not be fair, but eternity is.
- We believe in searching out good things: good books, good ideas, good people. I know that God inspires people of all races, religions, backgrounds and political parties (I'll tell you that I am a Democrat, since I'm letting it all hang out) with impressions of how they can make the world better. "God is no respecter of persons." (Acts 10:34)
(I'll wrap this up on tomorrow's post.)
What defines you?