I don’t normally talk about my religion, even though it plays an instrumental part in my life. In my travels, I periodically have the chance to be the first Mormon that someone has encountered. Naturally, I receive many inquiries and the occasional concern. I don’t have all the answers. And I’m definitely not a perfect example. I compiled this list from my experiences while traveling. For those of you that know a Mormon, are a Mormon, like the Mormons, don’t like the Mormons, or have yet to have an opinion of our church – here are 8 things that I want you to know about me and my religion.
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed herein are not publicly endorsed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I speak for myself, hoping to represent well my perspective as a member of the church. If you have further inquires or wish to seek an “official” source of information, please visit www.lds.org or www.mormon.org
#1 We are Christians
If you don’t remember anything else, remember this. We believe in Jesus Christ. He is my Savior and I know that I am child of God, through and through.
#2 I respect your religion
I always hear disheartening stories of someone who came across a Mormon who was too pushy. A Mormon who said “I respect your religion,” but didn’t do much to show it. My first year of university (at a private church sponsored university), I took a “World Religions” course for the explicit reason to better understand this world we live in. I spent the majority of my childhood in Salt Lake City, Utah. “The bubble” some call it. I did NOT want to be a Mormon who knew nothing about other religions. Since the completion of the “World Religions” course, I’ve attended a Catholic mass, a Russian Orthodox mass, and visited a Buddhist temple. Experiencing firsthand another religion is, in my opinion, an essential aspect to understanding certain cultures.
(P.S. I tried to visiting a mosque here in Paris but it was closed.)
(P.P.S. Happy last day of Hanukkah for those who celebrated! 🙂 )
#3 All are welcome
Everyone is always welcome to attend our meetings, regardless of sex, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, race, etc etc. (although becoming a baptized member does have certain requirements). Sometimes I ask my friends if they want to tag along. I have a couple friends here in Paris who have said they will come at least one time to check it out. (looking at you, Katelyn and Simge! #nopressure)
#4 The Word of Wisdom
Aka the “no no” blurb. Basically, I don’t drink coffee, tea or alcohol. I can drink tea if it’s strictly herbal (like hibiscus or rooibos tea). And yes, I can drink caffeine. I know, you’re completely blown away. Myth debunked!
#5 When we don’t talk about something, we’re not hiding anything. We’re keeping it sacred.
This comes up aaaallll the time. Especially when it has to do with the temple. The church has chapels (meetinghouses) where we have services every Sunday. Then there are temples where we have the more sacred services (marriage, etc). There are better sources to ask questions about the temples, as I don’t go very often. Please understand that if we feel uncomfortable or hold back from discussing something, it’s because we want to respect it.
#6 We believe families can be together forever
This starts with marriage in the temple where couples are sealed together by the priesthood. No “til death do us part.” If we live righteously, God has prepared a way for us to live with our families after this life.
(And on that note, I’d like to clarify that we DO NOT have more than one wife.)
#7 Missions are a big deal – don’t tear down someone who has, or hasn’t, gone
For those that don’t know, LDS (that’s lingo for “Latter Day Saint” aka Mormon) young adults are given the opportunity to serve missions from age 18-25 (boys) and age 19* (girls). Guys serve 2 year missions and girls serve for 18 months. (Again not sure why those are the specs, but those are the specs.) It’s a BIG DEAL in our community. If someone has served a mission, and you couldn’t care less, tell them politely that you aren’t interested in knowing more (otherwise, especially if they returned recently, there’s a good chance they won’t stop talking about it). If someone hasn’t served a mission and you’re curious why not, get a feel for their situation before prying too deep. I personally have yet to serve a mission and I don’t feel uncomfortable discussing it. It wasn’t always so, and I know for a lot of LDS young adults it can be a tender subject.
*There is not an age limit single women wishing to serve a mission.
#8 If you have a question, PLEASE ASK
But ask a credible source. A member who actively attends services (not a disgruntled “once upon a time” Mormon) or the church’s website are both wonderful places to start. And there’s always the missionaries who
know more than I do are willing to share.
2017 Update: I no longer actively participate as a member of the LDS church. Although this list is still super applicable and a good resource for anyone who is Mormon and travels or meets a traveling Mormon. 😉