So You’re a Mormon now? Wow! Um … ur … how many wives do you want to have?
I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (The Mormon Church) a bit over a year ago. Joining the Mormon church isn’t as simple or earth-shattering as say … oh, I don’t know … joining the Baptists or the Methodists. Here in the South, those churches are a dime a dozen, and Mormon churches are few and far between. That doesn’t mean that we aren’t any closer or further from God than the odd Baptist, but people who live in the Bible belt are used to the religions that they’ve grown up with, that have been around for a few hundred years.
Because of the newness of the religion, and the fact that many don’t understand what we believe and why we do certain things,get some really odd questions. We also get some well-thought out, deep, and sometimes theologically based questions as well, but the odd ones, sadly, are the common ones, and so these ones are the ones I’ll cover here. I like answering them because though they deal with the sacred nature of religion, I am able to try to debunk the urban myths and legends that seemed to have been created in the very beginnings of the church during times of persecution and much bloodshed, and are still propagating today, and I get to do it with a smile. I also get to talk about my church both in general and specific terms, and I get to inform people about my viewpoints on the matter, even if they don’t agree with me. I won’t cover EVERY question I get asked because I could write scads of material on it, but I’ll cover some of the more hilarious and light-hearted ones here, and I'll try to delve into a few of the more deep topics here; I'm not an expert to bare with me.
Polygamy, Polygamy everywhere
How many wives do I have or will I have you ask? Well … I’m in a serious relationship now, and it’s a very wonderful thing. I’m not even married yet, and at times, it can be difficult. I envision marriage as being able to totally support my wife and a family, and I can’t fathom how I could easily (a) keep my sanity, or (b) support multiple wives and several kids. My church has practiced Polygamy in the past.
After the 1840s, it was practiced more widely, but not as widely as some might think. Historical accounts peg the active percentage of practicing polygamists to be around ten percent or less. Notable church members who had multiple wives included Brigham Young who had multiple wives and even more multiple children. But in most cases, polygamy wasn’t practiced for the sexually perverse reasons that some purport, but was practiced so as to support widowed young women whose husbands had been killed in the bloodshed and fighting of the Saints as they crossed the great plains. In the 1890s, the LDS church officially stopped the practice of polygamy, and this belief is still in effect today.
So, short story … The LDS church does not practice polygamy today. There are other break offs of the LDS church which are not related at all to my church, who do still practice plural marriage, but again, they relate not to the mainline LDS church.
Do Mormons grow horns when they join the church. Do all Mormons have horns?
No. Mormons look the same as any relatively normal homo sapien. We may have different beliefs than you, but last I checked, I don’t have horns, and neither do any of my Mormon friends.
You’re in a cult man!
Well, this depends on how you classify a cult. Dictionary.com via the American Heritage Dictionary lists the following two definitions that I found relevant.
- a. A religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false, with its followers often living in an unconventional manner under the guidance
of an authoritarian, charismatic leader.
- b. The followers of such a religion or sect.
- c. Obsessive, especially faddish, devotion to or veneration for a person, principle, or thing.
- d. The object of such devotion.
2. A system or community of religious worship and ritual.
If you consider Mormonism to be either extremist or false, you might consider that I may actually be in a cult. In my worldview, extremism can’t be easily construed. What the Catholics considered as heresy or extremism at the time of the Reformation is now considered the norm. So just because my beliefs may be different than yours does not automatically make my involvement in this religion, in my view, cultlike. Heck, according to definition 2, all of us who belong to a religious organism belong to a cult. So I guess the definite and absolute answer to this question should be definitely and emphatically yes. Sadly for you though, I don’t worship the men who are leaders of my church, nor do I worship Joseph Smith (the founding member of my church), but worship Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. I also don’t blindly (he he) follow all the beliefs of my church. I question the heck out of it, and I pray always. You can also be comforted by the fact that I do not believe that I should kill myself so as to reach the special spaceship in the sky and, therefore ultimate salvation. I don’t have a chip implanted in my head at my Baptism which guides my every move from a main control room in Salt Lake City, but wait, what’s this beeping I’m hearing just now. Oh … the … pain … ahhhhhhhhhhhhrgggg!
Do you guys do blood sacrifices in your temples? Do you kill people often for religious purposes?
Are you serious? Last week we executed three calves, two virgins, three distressed maidens, and six sinful brethren, to atone for our sins, and we did it in fifteen minutes. We still had time to do the meet and greet and potluck afterwards too. What can I say, we’re resourceful people. No, we do not sacrifice or worship blood. We believe that Jesus Christ atoned with his blood for the sins of the world, so we don’t believe in any more needless bloodshed. There’s also some kind of legend that says that we throw virgins off of the top of the Salt Lake Temple so that they land in the Salt Lake. We don’t do this, from what I’ve heard, and even if we did throw an odd virgin off of the spire, science wouldn’t, or shouldn’t, allow said virgin to fly the ten miles to the Great Salt Lake.
Temples, secretive or sacred.
It is true that no one who is unworthy, and that includes people who are not members of the LDS Church, can enter an LDS temple. This doesn’t mean that I sin more or less than you, and it doesn’t mean that I’m better than you, but it does mean that I have completed certain steps to enter the temple, namely paying full tithing (offering), keeping the commandments of God, being baptized into the church, and other things. I haven’t entered the temple yet myself, and I haven’t undergone all of these secretive rituals that are written about and criticized. I don’t know what goes on in the temple because others have not told me. It’s not because they’re trying to hide church secrets, but we believe that the temple is the literal house of God, and therefore is so sacred that even mentioning the ceremonies outside of the temple is not done. I’ll make sure that I let you know if I go to the temple and survive. Who knows, I might just get another chip implanted, but somehow I doubt it.
All religions have slight differences. Some include more differences than others. Judaism is different than Christianity, but have a lot of similarities. Baptists and Methodists have some differences,, but they are small. Mormons are no different from this mantra of religious diversity. The thing I realized as I learned more about my religion is how many similarities my religion has to those religions who belief in Jesus Christ. Not everyone will agree with the viewpoints I’ve explained in this post, but everyone should be able to at least realize that, in my case, living in America gives me the opportunity to believe what and how we like. All questions and humor aside, that fact alone makes me smile an infinitely wider smile than the odd dim-witted and misunderstood question provokes; I am thankful that my forefathers gave me this right because I believe that God wouldn’t have it any other way.