The Second Article of Faith

We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.

In line with divine justice, all men and women must be held accountable for their personal actions, and not the actions of other individuals, including Adam. That isn’t to say we are not affected by the actions of others. People are indeed blessed or made to suffer, to certain degrees, by the actions of others. Our standing before God, however, is independent of outside forces and is based on what we have done with our circumstances. The spirit of God withdraws when we turn away from Him and our access to the atonement is cut off. Without the atonement, we cannot progress toward God. That is a natural consequence of our actions, and such consequences were ones that God wished for us to avoid.

See also:

The Fall of Adam and Eve

The Original Sin

Question Box: Does Sin Cause Disease?

What do Mormons believe about illness and causes of illness?

Simply put, Mormons seek to know, understand and believe anything that is true. We are encouraged to seek truth from all good sources. By-and-large, the origin of disease is not something specifically addressed by doctrine revealed through the priesthood. That leaves it up to individual members to decide what they believe personally, with the injunction to “seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” (D&C 88:118)

Mormons tend to accept well-established scientific truths, including truths about pathogens, genetics, nutrient deficiencies and other well-established causes of disease. Throughout recorded history, a common belief has been that disease is a punishment for sin. This idea isn’t entirely refuted by revealed doctrine, but it isn’t completely accepted either. Because many of the natural consequences of sin lead to poor health or disease, it can be said that disease is a punishment for certain sins. For example, illegitimate sex is against the the teachings of Jesus Christ and His servants. Such behavior can lead to sexually transmitted diseases that one would avoid by righteous living. In this sense you can say somebody is “punished” for illicit sexual behavior when they contract genital herpes. However, most Mormons would simply say that the disease was a natural consequence of sin, and not that the sin “caused” the disease.

Pornography: Avoid it like the Plague

In the Middle Ages, one third of Europe’s population was wiped out by the Black Plague. Today there is a plague killing people, but this plague is killing them spiritually–it is pornography. Pornography is defined as “any material depicting or describing the human body or sexual conduct in a way that arouses sexual feelings” ( I know that many in the world would say that there is nothing wrong with watching a little pornography here and there, because it doesn’t affect them. But just letting a cat into the house in the Middle Ages could have caused the death of the entire family. Pornography should be avoided at all costs. The effects it has on the brain are well documented– it is more addictive than cocaine. Fully half of all divorces in America cite an obsessive addiction with pornography by one of the partners as a major reason for the split. It is not worth even a tiny glance.

I am sympathetic to those who personally deal with this extremely addicting and destructive vice. I can only imagine how hard it must be to break the shackles. I am sure that such people feel that they can never escape, or that they have come so far down, that they can’t escape. But there is always a way out and that way is through the atonement of Jesus Christ. I am not saying that addiction to pornography is easily overcome, but what I am saying is that it is possible with sustained, diligent effort. Our church has put together a website ( to help those who are struggling in any way with pornography. It is also a great resource to educate oneself about the effects of pornography on the individual, family, and society.

But what about those that dabble here and there? Is it really that bad? Christ said, “That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). It is clear, God views these types of activities as sin. Under the law of Moses adultery was punishable by death by stoning. That should indicate to us the seriousness that God places on breaking commandments that deal with virtue.

And for those of you who are married, (and even if you are not) I urge you think twice about viewing pornography in any form. You are better than that. Your dignity and integrity aren’t worth it. You owe it to yourself, your spouse, and your kids to keep your mind clean from this filth. If you have fallen into this trap, there is a way out. A starting point would be to click on the link I listed above. Here are some links to articles or talks by a few of the leaders of our church:

I advise everyone who reads this to treat the issue with as much care and consideration as you would if you were living amidst an outbreak of the Black Plague. Guard yourselves. Protect your families. Pornography is an addictive, destructive and draining habit. Even viewing it one time can be enough to start an addiction. Teach your children and avoid it yourselves.

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.