If I were a Mormon, I would have to stop . . .

In nearly every conversation I have with people about my beliefs, they say something to the effect, “If I were a Mormon, I would have to stop drinking coffee, I just can’t live without coffee.”  Or, “I couldn’t drink alcohol anymore.”  Or, “I would have to get married to my girlfriend.”

Of  course people have things that they love and enjoy.  I do too.  But recently, I have started to think about all of the the blessings that are in my life because I am a Mormon and it has caused me to think about what people say they would have to give up to become a Mormon.  To me the things people say they would have to give up are a couple of pennies in comparison to the millions they could receive.

Lets talk about what blessings are in my life because I am a Mormon and do my best to practice what believe:

  • I have a beautiful wife who loves me and has given me three beautiful children.  She is the best thing that ever has, or ever will happen to me. Our marriage is strong and we have complete trust and faith in each other.  I know that she and I will be together forever and ever if we remain faithful to each other and to God.

  • My wife and I have had to make sacrifices so that she can stay home with the children, but they are growing up happy.  They feel safe and secure in my home and they know that I and their mother love them.  They trust us, their parents.  They like to spend time together and laugh and play with each other.
  • I was able to perform two years of missionary work for my church.  This experience has blessed my life in ways I can’t count.  I grew up and gained experience and perspective that would have taken me 10-15 years to acquire in other ways.  I learned a second language.  I learned how to interact with people.  I learned how to be an effective teacher.  I found out what true happiness is all about.  I went out a boy and came home a man.

  • I am able to run 3-4 miles without difficulty. I eat lots of fruit and vegetables which keep me feeling good. I don’t need coffee to wake me up in the morning, or a cigarette to calm my nerves, and I don’t need alcohol to have a good time on Friday night.    What’s more, I have been promised if I will live the Word of Wisdom, I will be given knowledge and understanding and have strength above and beyond what I would be capable of on my own.

  • I know who I am, I know where I have come from, I know why I am on earth, and I know where I am going.

These are just a few of the things that I can think of at the moment, but when I start to really think about it, the things that I have given up to be a Mormon pale in comparison to what I have gained.  I urge you to think about what I have written about.  These blessings are as available to you as they are to me.  Yes, you will have to make sacrifices initially, but believe me, when you start to see the way God will work in your life, you will realize that they aren’t sacrifices at all.

The Original Sin

This post comes from the following question: “What do mormans [sic] believe about original sin?”

This question is most simply answered by a statement Joseph Smith gave about our beliefs: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” (AoF 1:2)

We also believe that “every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning” (D&C 93:38). Additionally, men are “free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil” (2 Ne 2:27). In short, this means that we are not inherently evil because of an “original sin”. Rather, we are created innocent with the freedom to choose good or evil and are accountable for only the choices we make and not for the choices Adam made.

That being said, the fall of Adam did introduce the possibilities of sin and death to his posterity (i.e. us). Thus, while not being directly accountable to God for a decision we never made, Adam’s transgression does nonetheless affect us (Alma 42:5–9, 14).

For more information, see the following:

The Standard of God

I have often found in this wide world, that many people don’t understand the Mormon way of living.  This is evident based just on the question, “what can’t Mormons do?” as if restrictions on behavior is something strange.  Well, first off, it isn’t to me.  Not very much.  It isn’t strange to me that I don’t smoke, drink, gamble, cheat, or steal and that I do go to church, pay tithing, read scriptures, stay chaste and so forth.  That is the standard by which I live.  Everybody has a standard, or guidelines by which they make their decisions.  So then, why did I choose my standard?  Let me explain it to you.

First and foremost, God has a standard.  He has a way of living that He wants for us.  He has revealed, and continues to reveal, that way of living to prophets throughout the ages.  Through Moses, He instructed the children of Israel to obey a strict set of laws.  Jesus Christ instructed the Jews a different (and better) way of living that relied more on developing a good heart that dictates good actions.  I don’t doubt that that same Being inspired Buddha, Mohammad or Confucius to teach their respective peoples a better way of living.

Here’s the important part:  God does this so that His own children might be happy.  That’s right; God gives rules for you to be happy.  If He can persuade His children to lift their way of living to a higher level, even on just a single point, it brings Him joy because they are living up to a standard that is naturally better.  It isn’t so much that God will punish those who break commandments; the commandments are there to prevent actions that cause damage.  If I do action “A” then “B” will be a result.  If “B” is good, then God wishes us to do “A,” otherwise He must forbid it.

There are several problems people see with this standard.  First, they don’t see beneficial results from supposedly good actions, nor do they see bad results from bad actions.  Then they wonder why the standards are there in the first place.  Patience.  That’s why we believe in personal revelation.  We can ask our Heavenly Father if such a thing is for us.  After receiving an answer, we trust in that answer and believe that someday, somehow, that trust will be for our good.

Second, many people find themselves not living in harmony with their beliefs.  That is, everybody eventually finds themselves where their actions don’t line up with what they know they should be doing.  They then have a choice.  They could change their actions, or change their beliefs.  Either will relieve the situation and not doing either will always result in misery.  You would be the most wretched person if you constantly wish to be unchaste while acting in celibacy.  Or you could be miserable believing that you ought not to drink alcohol while sitting at the bar getting drunk.  The key is to alter the action that is keeping us from God instead giving up His standard.

Third, when we make a poor decision, we naturally are loathe to accept the consequences for that action.  We would like to get the benefit of something we didn’t do and avoid the penalty for something we did do.  It is true that Christ’s atonement allows us to repent and avoid the dire consequences of our actions, most especially being separated from God, but it is definitely easier to prevent making a mess of our lives than to work through the repentance process.  The time spent destroying spirituality could be spent building it up instead.  God’s standard helps us reap blessings with the time we have and not to spend it in trials and pain.

So in light of all this, it is imperative that each of us keep to the standard of God and stick to it.  The Atonement of Jesus Christ is there for us in our moments of weakness and to pick us up at our worst moments, if we are just willing to accept help.  It will be uncomfortable, there is no doubt there, but growth means growing pains.  The path of least resistance is quite comfortable, but doesn’t lead to the desired end.  We desire a better end, a more excellent way and one that brings a life of real joy and satisfaction.  That is why we do the things we do and try our best to live according to God’s standard.

Why Can’t Mormons Swim on Sunday?

Q. Why can’t Mormons swim on Sunday?

Swimming is something we do mainly for recreation, like sailing, golfing, four-wheeling, and going to the movies.  The Lord has asked us to spend one day of our week in worship.  Recreation often distracts from this goal.  We prefer to find activities that focus our thoughts on the Savior and bring us together as families.

Is there something inherently evil about swimming?  No, but we can lose our spiritual balance when we overfill our time with fun-seeking.

The Lord instructed Joseph Smith, “That thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day; for verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High” (D&C 59:9–10). Notice that there is a blessing associated with Sabbath observance, and you can choose to claim it or not.  Freedom from the ‘spots’ or moral pollutions of the world is more important to me than swimming.

The blessings of closer communion with God easily outweigh the pleasure I might get playing Marco! Polo! in the community swimming pool (called the ‘Municipool’ where I live), especially when I can enjoy a swim on six other days of the week.

The blessings are not reserved only for Mormons, either.  Give it a try and see how you feel.  See David’s excellent article on Sabbath Day worship to learn how.