Sunday, June 7, 2015

What in the World is a Mormon?

*Note: Mormons actually prefer to be called 'members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,' or just 'Latter-day Saints' for short, but for SEO purposes I'll let "Mormon" stand in the title.

I admit to being a little too sure of myself when I sat down to write this post. It would be easy (I thought) to explain what members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are because I am one.

But as I sat down to write, I started feeling the responsibility to present every single thing we believe and do in a logical fashion, and that ain't gonna happen because you'd be reading all day. And your kids have to eat sometime.

So I decided to abandon the idea of writing the definitive last-ever article on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and instead focused on writing about 6 things Latter-day Saints believe that influence my daily life the most.

Here they are, listed in order of importance to how I live and what I think about all day.

1. Latter-day Saints believe in Jesus Christ.

I believe that Jesus is my savior, and He forgives my sins when I repent. I do believe in trying to live like He did and follow His instructions from the scriptures, although I admit to doing a bad job at that on a regular basis.

What are the 6 things that motivate ordinary members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to do what they do every day?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
No, not the naked baby doll. Or the mess. The picture of Jesus up on the wall.
Like I said, He's important to us.

The church I attend is called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (not "the Mormon church," FYI,) say prayers in His name, and read about Him in the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

I think about Him quite a lot, and everything else I believe is an extension of believing in Christ.

2. Latter-day Saints believe in families.

Phillip and I were sealed in the temple when we got married in 2001. Getting sealed in the temple means you're with your spouse and children (or future children) for eternity. Eternity, people.

What are the 6 things that motivate ordinary members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to do what they do every day?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
On our Wall o' Family Pictures.
This stuff is all over the houses of Mormons, I guarantee it.
I think Phillip and I are doing the most important thing we'll ever do by having and raising kids.

Some days we may be unable to produce a coherent sentence by the end of the day, but all kvetching aside it's our greatest happiness and our highest calling.

3. Latter-day Saints believe in revelation from God.

We are big believers in prayer, and I mean prayer like a two-way conversation. God can talk back, whether it's through a scripture, a feeling, or a random idea that pops into my head while I'm cleaning up a coloring book that somehow went through the washing machine. When God talks to us, we call that revelation.

We're asked to fulfill church responsibilities (like teaching or leading) through revelation. I got baptized because of revelation that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was true. Mormonism itself was actually founded because of a revelation to Joseph Smith in 1820. I'm a big believer that God welcomes questions.

4. Latter-day Saints believe in prophets.

There's always been a prophet at the head of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Today it's Russell M. Nelson. A prophet is God's authorized mouthpiece to the whole world, like Moses and Noah and those guys were in their day.

Twice a year there's this big worldwide broadcast called General Conference, when we hear from our prophet and the other leaders of the church who work with him. It's a big deal. Yes, we know the prophet is just a nice old man, but because he leads our church and talks to God, we love him and we listen to him.

5. Latter-day Saints believe in the priesthood.

The binding-on-earth-as-it-is-in-heaven power to act in God's name is called the priesthood, and I believe it's very real. The cool thing about our church is that instead of clerical titles or formal education, it's worthiness and faithfulness that qualifies a boy or man to receive the priesthood.
What are the 6 things that motivate ordinary members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to do what they do every day?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Yes, there's a baby under there somewhere.

When our fifth baby was born with trouble breathing, Phillip called a friend and together they gave him a priesthood blessing. Phillip's grandpa was the one who sealed us in the temple. My friend's 12-year-old passed us the sacrament (eucharist/communion) at church today.

To me the priesthood isn't just some vague mystic power out there limited to a select few, but something really personal, in my home, in Phillip.

6. Latter-day Saints believe we are children of God.

Many of the things I understand about God are insights I've gained as I parent my own kids. Because I believe He's literally my father, I draw parallels between my parenting and His (although one of us is perfect and one isn't; I'll let you guess which one is which.) By extension, I also believe my kids are God's children and He loves/knows them better than I do.

I also try to see everyone as my brother and sister, since that's what they are! We actually call each other that at church, which makes for an amusing scene when I run into a fellow church member at the grocery store who says "Hi, Sister Evans" and everyone around us is wondering why I'm not dressed like a nun, not even a little bit.

Needless to say, this post doesn't contain everything we do or believe in, or cover all 285 years of the history of Mormonism.

You can email me or leave a comment below if you want to see another post on something specific, but these are just the big 6 that influence me every day.

Those, and pecan pie. But that's another story for another time.

**Update: Now you can check out my Strange but True Guide to Mormons for more about what we believe!

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Shirley Vicchitto said...

I enjoyed your conversion story and came here to see your blog. Nice to see you and Philip did marry and start a family. (not sure if you are done or not) I am learning how to let others know me without me knowing them first. Thank you Sis Evans it has been nice getting to know you. :)

Jenny Evans said...

Come back any time! Even if for no other reason than to feel better about the cleanliness of your house.

Jenny said...

Isn't it great that we are given all these things (priesthood, prayer, revelation...)? Thanks for this post. Sometimes it's nice to have the reminder that Heavenly Father wants to talk WITH us and.

Jenny Evans said...

I think the best part about writing posts like this is that it makes me re-remember how cool it all is. I'm great at taking things for granted.

Kelly said...

I am a Catholic and I have to say we are not all that different. I believe in Jesus, family, prayer... humor! I think that we are all connected even though we worship differently. I loved reading about your faith, and as always, I love your humor!

Jenny Evans said...

I don't mean to downplay any theological differences because they are there and they do matter, but I think any two people of faith have more in common, especially when they look at what's most important to them.

I've always had a soft spot for Catholicism in particular because I have good friends who are Catholic and I think we're very similar in terms of our family values and how we live. Thanks for reading and I hope you come back often!

Jenny Evans said...

The main thing that sets Mormons apart is that they believe things were gradually lost from the church Jesus established in the centuries after he died, and that Joseph Smith was called as a prophet to restore it with all its missing pieces (things like priesthood authority, a current-day prophet, additional scripture, temples, and temple sealing.)

We also understand some things differently, like we don't believe in the Trinity, original sin, or "traditional" concepts of heaven and hell.

Maybe I'll write another post focusing on the differences between Mormonism and other Christian religions if that's something people are interested in reading.

Unknown said...

You have such a strong faith Jenny. I don't believe in the organised aspects of religion and I'd describe myself as agnostic but I think it's a really good way to live a good life. X #sharewithme

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I didn't realise all those things were part of your religion. Oh.... school busses in London are contracted out to local bus companies as opposed to your schools who purchase the bus and hire their drivers.

Jenny Evans said...

Good to know. (If anyone reading is scratching their head at how this is a logical progression of thought, it's referring to a discussion on another post. I promise!)

Let's Talk Mommy said...

Always great to have strong faith darling. Great post. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me. Hope to see you again tomorrow for another great round. #sharewithme

Jenny Evans said...

Just thought I'd let everyone know that I did go ahead and write a post detailing some of the beliefs that make Mormons different:

Anonymous said...

It is interesting talking to someone of this faith as I have had no exposure. What about polygamy? Is it practices, accepted and embraced? Curious.