The sincerely held beliefs of faithful Latter-day Saints have been mocked on Broadway Shows, late-night adult cartoons, and bloggers who seem to have an axe to grind against the church. Their goal is to paint The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in a negative light–even if they have to twist the truth to do it. Usually, this is done by making Mormon beliefs seem as strange and weird as possible.
Note: The official name of the church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some people have called us “Mormons,” but we prefer the proper name of the church to emphasize our belief in Jesus Christ.
They aren’t totally wrong. To many, some of the beliefs of Mormons will seem unique and different. If you think about it, all religions have unique beliefs. Below is a list of some of the unique beliefs that Mormons believe, which is what makes the church unique. It’s what defines their relationship to Christ. I think that you’ll see that while the beliefs are unique, they are beautiful at the same time, and they make Mormons be good citizens and members of any community.
1. Mormons Believe in Eternal Marriage
The Mormon wedding ceremony is unique in a few ways, but it produces incredible results. Despite countless social programs, the divorce rate throughout the United States has remained extremely high for many years. Currently, the divorce rate among all people is around 47-50% depending on what statistic you cite. However, the divorce rate among Mormons who marry in a Mormon temple is only 6%. That is remarkable when you consider that the divorce rate among other Christians almost always mirrors the 50% national average of non-Christians.
A portion of that statistic is no doubt a result of the type of faithful people who marry in an LDS temple. Another reason is that those who marry in a Mormon temple believe that the marriage is respected by God after death–not only “to death do you part.” So when Mormon couples hit rough patches, they work out the problems between them rather than looking for an “out.”
Exceptions are many, but statistics show that Mormon families are happy, healthy, and do their best to be good parents.
2. Mormons Believe that Christ, Heavenly Father, and the Holy Ghost are Separate Beings
The Mormon belief that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are three separate people who are one in their mission to bring about the salvation of all mankind.
The Bible is ripe with evidence in this belief. When Christ was killed on the cross, he cried an earnest and desperate prayer to Heavenly Father. His sacred prayer was, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Was he desperately seeking a connection with himself?!?! When he declared, “Into thy hands, I commend my spirit,” was he asking himself to accept himself in his own Heaven? It takes a contorted and twisted reading of the Bible to honestly believe that.
Another obvious example of this belief in the Bible is in the Book of Mark. Christ is baptized of John the Baptist. After Christ comes out of the water, the Holy Spirit descends from Heaven in the form of a dove (Mark 1:10). This shows that Christ and the Spirit are certainly separate as they are seen separately here. Christ could not have stood in a river and looked up in the sky only to see himself descending in the form of a dove. Then, Heavenly Father’s voice from heaven declares, “Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11). Was Christ’s voice magically teleported into the sky? Did Christ really call himself his own son, and was he really pleased in himself? I think not. To me, this is as clear of a reference to Christ, the Spirit, and God being separate beings as anything.
I could go on, and on, and on. Really the only scripture that could make one wonder if the three are one being is where the Bible records that Christ, God, and the Holy Ghost are one. However, I believe that this merely shows their unity in purpose. The Bible also uses this phrase in relation to married couples who leave their mother and father and become one.
3. The Book of Mormon Says that Christ Ministered to the Whole World
In the Bible (John 10:16), Christ explains that he is the Good Shepherd and that he will be killed. Then, he says “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold, and they shall hear my voice. And there shall be one fold and one shepherd.” The question is who are the “other sheep” that Christ promised to minister to?
Mormons believe that Christ, after his death and resurrection, followed up on that promise and visited other lands throughout the world. After all, he is the Savior of the entire world–not only the Jews. The Book of Mormon is a record of Christ’s teachings to the people in the Americas.
This is a unique belief among other religions, and some might find it to be a little weird to read about Christ visiting other places than Jerusalem until they realize that Christ promised to do so.
You can read a summary of The Book of Mormon here.
4. Mormons Believe in Donating 10% of their Money to Charity
Yup, 10%. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) feel that it is important to not become overly obsessed with worldly possessions.
They pay a tithe (10%) of their earnings to the church each month. The church uses these funds for charitable works–nearly all of the church’s clergy are unpaid with only a handful of exceptions out of the 15 million Mormons throughout the world.
No “donation plate” is ever passed around at church and nobody brow beats anyone who doesn’t pay a tithe. Tithing is an individual choice that the faithful voluntarily chose to give in secret.
Also, the Mormons pay a generous “fast offering” which is a donation to charity once per month. They fast (skip food and drink) for 24 hours to show their devotion to God, and donate the money they would spend on those meals, plus a generous amount to charity. The church uses these funds to do all kinds of humanitarian works around the world.
5. Mormons Believe Everyone Has a Responsibility to Research Their Family History
One unique belief of Mormons is their belief in baptism for the dead. To understand this principle, a basic Biblical understanding of baptism is required.
John 3:5 says, “Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” This scripture clearly lays out the requirement of baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost before entrance into heaven is permitted. God cannot lie, so this teaching is iron clad.
What of the millions and millions of people who die without a fair chance to learn of Jesus, be baptized, and receive the Holy Ghost? What of those who live in countries such as China where Christianity is not preached? Are they all cast down to hell? Does God not love these people?
Surely not. God’s plan is perfect, and he wants all of his children on Earth to return to Him. He provides for this through baptism for the dead.
The Bible makes reference to baptism for the dead a few times, such as in 1 Corinthians 15:29: “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all, why are they then baptized for the dead?” In this speech, Paul uses the apparently common practice of baptism for the dead to teach the truth of the resurrection.
In the Mormon church, members are asked to research their ancestors. They study their family history (genealogy) and find those who died without a knowledge of the gospel. Then, they take those names to Mormon temples and the member of the church is baptized in a font for and in behalf of their ancestor.
The practice of baptism for the dead makes Mormons especially mindful of their families, family trees, and their family legacy. It is a beautiful practice which is essential to God’s plan.
6. They Believe Innocent Children Are Without Sin
One interesting teaching in The Book of Mormon is that innocent children are without sin. While many churches believe in “original sin” meaning that Adam and Eve’s sin makes children unclean even though the children did not make the choice to partake of the fruit.
Toward the end of the Book of Mormon, Moroni (a Book of Mormon prophet who lived around AD 400 in the Americas) said “Little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world … How many children have died without baptism! Wherefore, if little children could not be saved without baptism, these must have gone to an endless hell.” (Moroni 8:12-13)
This teaches that we are all subject to the fall of Adam and Eve. Because of their choice, we can all die and do not live in a perfect Garden of Eden. However, their sin is their own. Children are not born evil because of someone else’s choice. Instead, children are alive in Christ and are not responsible for their sins until they reach the age of accountability (age 8).
Thus, children are not baptized in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints until they are at least 8 years of age.
7. Mormons Dedicate More than 2 Hours Per Week to Church Worship
Mormons have their main church meetings on Sundays. The meetings last 2 hours long. The first meeting is called Sacrament Meeting, where the bread and water are passed around as a memory of Christ’s last supper and to renew promises the Mormons have made to serve Christ.
The second meeting is called Sunday School. The youth and kids each go to meetings with kids their own ages, and adults meet together to study the Bible and the Book of Mormon.
In addition to Sunday worship, we attend the temple (about 2 hours if you live close), read the scriptures daily, have church meetings in our homes, and read our scriptures daily.
The public is always invited to attend Mormon church services.
8. They Serve in their Churches Without Pay–Often for Many Many Hours Per Week
Members of the church are all given specific duties or ways they can help out in the church. A member may be assigned to make a program for the church service each week, to serve as a bishop (leader of a congregation of about 300), to play the piano during services, to teach a youth class, etc. Out of the more than 15 million Mormons in the world, only a very small handful receive pay for their ecclesiastical work.
I have been assigned to teach a youth Bible class each morning to the teenagers before they go to high school. That calling takes about 3 hours of my time each week day, and I am not paid to do so. While it is a major time commitment, I’m happy to have a way to serve others and fulfill my responsibility to be a servant of Christ.
So are Latter-day Saints totally bizarre and weird? I guess you could say so. They don’t do the same things as most people. Actually, they do a lot of things differently in order to serve others and to strive to be good members of society.
Maybe being weird isn’t so bad. In fact, maybe it helps Mormons to become good Christians.
If you learn more about Mormons, you’ll see that although Mormons are different, at the same time they believe many of the same things that you do.