As a life-long member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I’m asked with frequency what things I “can and can’t do.” That’s always been a little funny of a question to me because I, just like you, can do whatever I want.
The reason that I CHOOSE to live a certain way as a devout member of the church of Jesus Christ is not because I’m afraid of punishment or to try and make myself look better than anyone else. I choose to follow God’s commandments because I want to be happy, and I believe the commandments are the right foundation for helping me to be a good man.
A quick side-note. The official name of the church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We like to use the official name of the church because it emphasizes our faith in Jesus Christ. This article was written originally with the word “Mormon” repeated throughout, which isn’t the proper way to refer to the church. Members of the church are properly referred to as “Latter-Day Saints.”
But, you googled for a list of the rules of conduct that we live by, and you’ll get it. So here goes…
- No sex before marriage and complete fidelity after marriage. Latter-day saints believe the family is essential to God’s plan, so we don’t do anything that could jeopardize that. The 10 commandments in the Bible says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”
- No alcohol or drugs. Why? We don’t want the affects of alcohol or drugs to influence us to make poor decisions.
- No dishonesty. We believe it is important to keep Christ’s commandment in the Bible to be honest with other people. We aren’t perfect at it, but we strive to do our best. The 10 commandments say not to “…bear false witness.”
- Donate 10% of your income to charity and the building up of the kingdom of God. We believe that God is the Creator of the world. We obey the law of the tithe to show our trust in God. Because of the church’s almost complete lay ministry, the tithes are only spent for good instead of lining the pockets of a professional pastor.
- Do not view pornography. We believe it’s incredibly belittling to women to treat them as objects, and pornography tempts the viewer to commit sin. The 10 commandments say “thou shalt not covet.”
- Do not engage in same-sex relationships. We are taught that marriage is ordained between a man and a woman. We have great love and respect for ALL people–including gays and lesbians. There are many gay members of the church who are very faithful people and are in full fellowship. They are welcome to come to church and participate in the church, and we love them just as we would anyone else. However, we do believe the Bible’s teachings that romantic relationships are ordained by God to be between man and woman.
- Dedicate Sundays to the Lord. The 10 commandments from the Bible includes the commandment “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” We attend church on Sundays where we study the words of Christ and worship God.
- No foul language. We keep our language clean and respectful. As it says in the 10 commandments, “Thou shalt not take the Lord’s name in vain.”
- No cigarettes, coffee, tea, coffee or tobacco. We believe life is a gift from God and we do our best to keep our bodies healthy and clean. I wrote more on why we don’t drink coffee here.
- Teenagers shouldn’t date until 16 years-old. We believe that teens should be careful to develop wholesome relationships in high school and should wait to develop serious boyfriend/girlfriend type relationships until they are of age to start courting and marrying. This helps them to prevent temptation to sexual sin.
- No abortion. Members of the church strongly oppose abortion and do not participate in abortion in any way. The 10 commandments say, “Thou shalt not kill.” Church leaders have opened the possibility for abortion in extreme instances of danger to the mother’s life, incest, and rape.
- Gambling. Members of the church don’t bet money on games of chance, or play the lottery.
There are lots of other things. For example, we believe in following the laws of the land, etc. But those are the interesting bits.
Our religion isn’t a bizarre list of “do and do nots”, but a foundation of belief in Christ and how we can be the best people we can become. We do not believe that God has a “gotcha list” of obscure commandments that must be followed or the individual will be sent to hell. On the contrary, our focus is simply on becoming the best people we can in accordance with God’s commandments.
We believe that God judges our hearts. Our willingness to obey His commandments is simply a manifestation of that heart. We believe we will be judged by our adherence to the principle of truth that each individual receives.
We aren’t perfect and we don’t look down on others who have a different value set, but we are willing to sacrifice to be our best.
Common Myths About What Mormons Can’t Do
The list of what people THINK Mormons do is probably longer than the list of things we actually avoid. So here are a few common myths so that you can be a bit better informed.
- MYTH – Mormons can’t drink anything with caffeine. No, this isn’t true. I don’t happen to like Coke, but I don’t think I’m going to hell if I drink it.
- MYTH – Mormons can’t use technology. Well, I’m typing this from a laptop, so… I think some extremely uninformed people think we’re Amish.
- MYTH – Mormon women can’t speak in church or hold leadership positions. Nope. Not at all. I was just in a church leadership meeting this morning with multiple women leaders in attendance. We do, however, believe that God’s priesthood authority to hold some callings are currently reserved for male priesthood holders. We believe both women and men have important yet distinct roles in life.
- MYTH – Mormons can’t use birth control. Not true.
- MYTH – Mormons marry multiple wives. No, any member of the church who did this would be excommunicated.
- MYTH – Mormons don’t dance. I think a more accurate description is “Mormons CAN’T dance” (meaning I’m a horrible dancer), but dancing is actually encouraged 🙂 We often hold dances at the church.
- MYTH – Mormons can’t celebrate Christmas, Halloween, Easter, or birthdays. Nope. I enjoy all of these holidays very much. We celebrate Christmas and Easter because we believe in Jesus Christ as the savior of the world; we celebrate birthdays because it’s fun; and we celebrate Halloween because… well, I guess just because it’s fun.
- MYTH – Mormon women can’t use makeup. My wife would freak out if this were true 🙂
- MYTH – Mormons don’t read the Bible and don’t believe in Jesus. This is absolutely crazy, but unfortunately, the church has enemies who spread ridiculous rumors about us. The official name of the church is The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints, so obviously we believe in Jesus as the Savior of the world. Jesus Christ and God are the center of everything we do and study in the church. Also, we read the Bible all the time and believe it to be the word of God.
- MYTH – Members of the church can’t serve in the military. This isn’t true. My dad served in the Army for 26 years, and both of my grandparents did. Many members of the church serve in the military and the church is supportive of that desire.
What Are the Things Mormons Are Taught To Do?
So far, we’ve only talked about the “Do nots” and none of the “do’s.” So let’s talk about some of the things that we are taught to do in the church. I’ll skip some of the obvious ones like “Be kind to others” and focus on those which may be different.
- Put most of our time and attention to our family. We are a very family-centric church. We believe that raising children to be good people, and being a good spouse is the most important thing we can do in life.
- Read the scriptures daily. Each day, members of the church read the Book of Mormon and the Bible. I find this really helps me to put things in perspective. Sometimes I get so focused on work or other worldly pursuits, that the time I spend reading the scriptures helps me to stay grounded.
- Get a good education. We’ve been encouraged to exercise our minds and become the best that we can.
- Be honest. We are taught to be honest with our fellow men and to deal fairly with other people.
- Serve a mission. When 18 or 19-year-olds in the church graduate high school, the church encourages them to serve a 2 year full-time mission. I did this when I was 19 and it was the best experience of my entire life. I saved up money beforehand and was assigned to Brazil for my mission. I learned Portuguese and spent two years in Brazil teaching people about Jesus Christ, providing service, and learning to become a man. Retired couples can also choose to serve a mission if they choose.
- Pray daily. We pray a lot as members of the church. Each morning, I roll out of bed onto my knees and pray to God to ask for his help in being my best that day. I ask for strength to do what is right, and for help for those around me who I know are in need. At night I pray for my enemies, to know what I should do the next day to learn to be better, etc.
- Fast at least monthly. Once a month, we fast (don’t eat) for 24 hours. We do this to show our devotion to God and that we rely on Him for our life. We take the money we would have spent on food (or more), and donate it to those who are in need.
- Volunteer in the church. We are taught that serving others makes us happy. Members of the church volunteer to teach classes in church, to take care of the babies in the nursery, to clean the church building, to run activities for the teenagers, etc. All local church leadership is unpaid, and we gladly serve.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about my religion. Just the fact that you were searching for this shows to me that you care about respecting the religion of others. Thank you.
If you’d like to learn a bit more about why I believe in Christ and am a Mormon, read this page.