Question Box: Is There Hope For Me?

Question: I was baptized, confirmed, into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints about 2 years ago.  I was even received into the Aaronic Priesthood.  However, soon after I resigned my church membership, and asked that my name be removed from the roles of the church.  I did this in response to internal pressures from my family who is fiercely anti-LDS.  I am still quite young, and not totally financially independent from my parents, and I risked being virtually cut off from my family.  I KNOW that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the ONE true church on the face of the earth, and possesses the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ!  I am in an awkward place, but I desire to come back…is there hope for me?

Answer: Of course there is! With Christ all things are possible! While membership in the church is technically a requirement, if you find yourself unable to attend for a time you can still be faithful. You can continue to live the standards, read the scriptures, gain knowledge and live as Christ would have you. Live your life worthily so that you can be rebaptized promptly (since you had your records removed). In the future, when you find yourself independent and able to return to church, do it! Everyone is welcome in Christ’s Church!

Why Are There So Many Religions?

There are wonderful people who do wonderful things from all faiths. M. Russell Ballard, a current apostle and leader in our church, said this: “I am inspired by the wonderful things being done by my learned and committed colleagues from other faith groups all around the world. These are noble men and women who have dedicated their lives to their faith, and the world is a better place because of them. They bring comfort to the sick, peace to the troubled, and hope to the weary and downtrodden. I am convinced that God works through them to bless the lives of His children in remarkable ways.” (M. Russell Ballard, Our Search for Happiness, pg. 26).

However, while we can find good people anywhere, God did not make innumerable religions. As the Bible says in 1 Cor. 14:33, “God is not the author of confusion…” A closer look at the basic beliefs of varying world religions will show a wide range of opinions on core religious principles. For example, Christianity says that Jesus is the Son of God. Jews believe the Messiah hasn’t come yet. Muslims, Buddhists, etc. don’t believe in a Messiah at all. There are plenty of examples just within Christianity itself: Should baptism be by sprinkling or by immersion?  Did the authority to act in Christ’s name continue down to Catholicism or was it lost with the death of the apostles?  Do you have to get permission to act in Christ’s name at all?  How does one receive that authority?

Paul taught the Ephesians that there is only “One Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:5). It’s our responsibility to find the truth and live it. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims that the authority to act in God’s name was lost with the death of Christ’s apostles. It further proclaims that, that authority has been restored through a modern prophet and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is His one and only true church on the earth today – with all of the truth, authority, and teachings necessary to live with God again after we die. We are invited to study the Church’s teachings and then pray and ask God whether what we’ve learned is true. We are promised an answer: “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10:4-5)

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:

Organ Donation and the Resurrection

Q. Do Mormons believe in being organ donors? When we die the spirit leaves and the body is left behind. Must you have a body to continue on your journey or can you donate parts to help someone left on earth?

Great question–I’ve been wondering the same thing since I’ve been reading “Stiff–the Curious Lives of Human Cadavers” for book club this month (we have a kind of quirky book club). The answer is: Yes. Mormons can be organ donors.

The best advice I’ve found on the subject comes from Cecil O. Samuelson, who is the President of BYU, a general authority of the church, and a doctor. He stated:

As is the case with many other scientific developments, there are many questions about organ transplantation that have serious economic, ethical, moral, and religious implications. And, as with many other important aspects of life, we have been counseled to study the information, make decisions, and pray for wisdom about our choices. (See D&C 9:7–9; D&C 58:26–28.)

The Church has taken no official position on organ transplants. It seems obvious, however, that organ transplantation does not affect one’s resurrection, since the organ would soon have returned to the basic elements of the earth following death anyway. Whatever happens to an organ following death, we are promised that “every limb and joint shall be restored to its body, yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost.” (Alma 40:23.)

Since our bodies decompose back into the elements from which they were made in a matter of a few weeks or months (depending upon your burial method–read “Stiff” for lots more information about that), we don’t resurrect from an intact body–rather, we resurrect from the elements that created us, as they gather back together in a perfected form. So whether a person is missing a heart, kidney, liver or lung–everything will be returned and restored to him or her at the time of the resurrection.

So do good with your organs! Spread life around!

This is Elder Samuelson’s entire article on organ donation (just scroll down to the second heading), and this article talks about cremation.

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.