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Hi I'm Jared

About Me

Hi, I'm Jared. I've loved to learn all my life, and so, no surprise, I became a teacher! Although endorsed as a language arts teacher (I love the art of words and the power of writing throughout the ages), I also love astronomy, history, biology, anatomy, visual arts, and social arts and culture. My wife and I found each other via online dating (yes, it can work!), and have one beautiful child. For hobbies, I enjoy hiking, creative writing, analytical writing, designing solar systems, and designing "alien" societies. I also love video games, where I can experience virtual realities or simulations (which works well when you like to write sci fi or fantasy).

Why I am a Mormon

I was born in a Mormon family, but didn't care much about it until I started searching for truth and meaning in life, about age 17. At that point I started to search, beginning with what my family believed. I read the Book of Mormon for the first time really wanting to, and was absolutely convinced that it came from God. By experimenting with its teachings in my own life--exercising faith in Jesus Christ, repenting of my sins, treating others like my brothers and sisters, and loving God as my Heavenly Father--I found exactly what I was looking for. I've continued searching and studying for decades since, and keep finding more and more to learn, understand, and enjoy. Sure there are still mysteries--but Heavenly Father is a willing, wise, and loving teacher to any of His children who will listen.

How I live my faith

I believe that God loves us, and has sent us here to Earth to learn and "grow up." As a result, the more I communicate with God (through prayer), the easier it is to understand how to deal with tough situations in life. Heavenly Father genuinely cares about us, and not only on Sundays or at religious services. Even while struggling with chemistry assignments at school, I found that Heavenly Father was willing to help me relax, focus, and enhanced my understanding of the subject. As a result, I try to encourage people around me to involve God in their lives, their interests, their hobbies and families, as well as at work.

What does Mormonism teach regarding baptism?

Jared
Mormons believe that for a fullness of joy, all people need to accept Jesus Christ and His teachings with a promise of loyalty, or a "covenant." This covenant is heartfelt, but as an outward symbol of our loyalty, we are baptized. The symbol in baptism represents our dying (being laid to rest under the water, or "ground"), then being raised from death by Jesus' power. The convert is then "reborn" in an eternal life with Christ. Because Jesus taught that all of us need to be born of the water and of the spirit (John 3:5), following our water baptism, we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, or an entitlement to the guidance of God's Spirit for the rest of our lives. This baptism is particularly helpful, because once we accept and embrace the Savior, that's just the start--we then need to "grow up" spiritually by practicing the qualities Jesus taught. Show more Show less

In whom should we have faith?

Jared
The Mormons' first Article or Faith, or most important teaching, is "We believe in God, the Eternal Father; and in His Son, Jesus Christ; and in the Holy Ghost." For Mormons, faith is a belief so strong that it moves people to good actions. The best Teacher of our beliefs was Jesus Christ, who taught people ideas at church or at home or on the streets--whenever possible. He lived what He believed, and showed everyone around Him a good example to follow. Mormons believe that we need to study His teachings and example so that we'll know how to live a life that makes God happy. When God is happy, we are happy! If we believe Jesus enough to obey His teachings, and the teachings of His prophets, we are being faithful followers of God. Show more Show less

How can I know Mormonism is true?

Jared
God knows all truth. He fully understands all things, any situation we might face. Because we're His children, He loves us, He's patient with us while we grow, He's eager to help us out in life, and He's eager to teach us when we'll listen. While we're learning, obviously we'll make mistakes. And obviously when we learn one thing, we're not finished--we're never finished learning. The more we learn, the more we understand, the better we become at solving problems. When we involve God in this process, in our efforts, we'll always have a better chance off success. Remember: God knows, and He cares. To know if Mormonism, or any part of Mormonism, is true, you'll have a much better chance of understanding it if you involve God in the learning process. It's probably best or easiest if you study the current Church teachings--to start with, I'd recommend The Book of Mormon, the New Testament in the Holy Bible, and a Church magazine called The Ensign. All are available, free and easy to find, at lds.org on the Internet. The more you study, the more you'll recognize ideas or values that are important to you, or get new ideas to help you better solve problems in life. But by far the most important ingredient in the recipe of knowing, truly knowing truth, is talking with God about it. (Which is an idea that these books and magazines repeat over and over again). Because God knows everything, and loves you like a perfect Parent to a precious child, He'll gladly listen to any faithful, patient, loving question you ask Him in prayer. If you call Him "Heavenly Father," then explain what you've been studying, and ask Him, sincerely, and patiently, (and it definitely helps to be in a place where it's quiet and peaceful while you pray), then listen for His answer in the thoughts that come to your mind and the feelings that come to your heart, you can get an answer. Sometimes His answers come immediately. Some answers take time, patience, and effort (studying more, praying more, or even waiting more). But if you do your best to study, think about the wisdom of what you're studying, and then pray with a sincere heart, real intent, and having faith in Jesus Christ, I honestly believe that you will get an absolute conviction of the truth. This happened in my life, and continues to happen the more I study, pray, and try to apply His teachings in my life. Show more Show less

Is it true that Jesus appeared in North America after his crucifixion and resurrection according to the Book of Mormon?

Jared
As people have wandered across the world throughout history, sometimes they've kept their journeys short, and sometimes they've traveled long distances. History shows that often people move to an area and give that area a name. Sometimes there are natives already in an area. Sometimes settlers find out what the natives call an area; sometimes they just use their own words or names (New York versus York, New Jersey versus Jersey, etc). The Book of Mormon is a collection of writings from an ancient people that traveled from Israel to what is now called the American continent. The names they use for the places they settled are different from the names we use today. As a result, we can only guess whether the people of the Book of Mormon lived in what we call North America or South America. Of course, the names of places mentioned in the Book of Mormon are the least important part of that book. The Book of Mormon is actually a summary of the writings of prophets, put together by the last of their prophets named Mormon and Moroni. As the last of the prophets for their people, they chose the most important parts of their history to put in the Book of Mormon. They felt that the teachings of God to their people was more important than anything else. They tell how their people were blessed when they obeyed God's instructions, and suffered when they ignored God or rebelled against Him. As a result, their core message, repeated many times, is: follow God to be happy. Without a doubt, the most important part of the entire Book of Mormon is when Jesus Christ, following His resurrection and His final instructions to His followers in Jerusalem, visited the people of the Book of Mormon to teach them, as well. You can read His teachings online, for free, at lds.org, in the Gospel Library tab, Scriptures, Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi, and chapters 11-29 particularly. You'll find that many of them are the same teachings written in the Holy Bible's books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. You will also find that some of the teachings are different, based on the faithfulness of the people He was teaching. All of these teachings will help us to be better people, and are well worth our time and study. We are also invited, while reading these teachings, to pray to Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, for understanding, and for help in knowing how best to live them in our lives. Show more Show less

Why are only some Mormons allowed into temples? Is there something secret going on in Mormon Temples? What goes on in Mormon Temples?

Jared
Mormons typically use two kinds of buildings for worship: churches and temples. Church is like school for the soul, and the temple is like a university. At church, Mormons study the life of Jesus Christ, and discuss ways that we can use His teachings in our lives. Usually, however, only the basics are taught. On the other hand, in Mormon temples, the same principles are taught, but at a more advanced level. This is why even LDS members need to study, practice what we preach, and prepare to go to the temple. Otherwise, we wouldn't understand what we were being taught as well, and it would be harder to live the advanced lessons. All promises made in the Temple to God are between ourselves and Him. For this reason, these promises are special, and personal. We feel they are sacred, between us and Him, and this is why we encourage reverence about them. Show more Show less

Why is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called Mormons or Mormonism?

Jared
Mormons are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Obviously the name is much shorter, and easier to use in conversations or references.) The name is borrowed from an ancient prophet, Mormon, who put together a shortened version of his people's history (an abridgment) in The Book of Mormon. Show more Show less

Does The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints endorse political parties?

Jared
Mormons believe that governments are important to help keep order in any society. We believe that God's teachings in the gospel of Jesus Christ will help us to live decent, respectable lives, be compassionate and caring for those around us, and be wise in how we deal with each other, with life, and with challenges that arise. As a result, any political party that approves of God's teachings, and lives them consistently, is more likely to attract Mormons. Likewise, any political party that prefers different standards, or opposes the teachings of Jesus Christ, will be more likely to offend Mormons. Ultimately, however, Mormons believe that we all have the right to choose for ourselves what groups we want to support or oppose. Show more Show less

Why do Mormons believe in the Bible?

Jared
The Mormons believe that God is not only our Creator, but our Heavenly Father. We believe that He loves us, and wants to help us learn and grow in this life, so we can return home to Him, feeling faithful, confident, and happy following our earthly death. God has spoken throughout history to any of His children who will search for Him, then listen to what He says, and follow Him in faith. Some people who have followed this path have written about their experiences with God. In time, many of these writings were gathered together in a book that we now call the Holy Bible. This collection is extremely helpful and important to all of humanity. Thanks to the experiences that are described, we get a very good idea of who God is, what He is like, and how He wants to bless us whenever we obey Him. We also learn that when we ignore Him, or rebel against Him, He will sometimes take away His blessings, and we suffer misery. This misery can help guide us back to search for Him, apologize for our mistakes, and be forgiven of these "sins." Most important of all, we learn about Jesus Christ, who came to earth to teach us who we are, what we should be like, and what we need to do to be happy and make God happy. We learn that God gave Him power to overcome sin, and suffer the pain that we would experience because of sin. This means that when we sin, if we repent, or apologize to God, and try to improve our lives, Jesus' "Atonement" brings us "at-one" with God again, pure and forgiven. As we continue to learn and grow and improve, we prepare to return home to God with joy and peace. This is the central and most important message of the Holy Bible, and why Mormons love it. Show more Show less

How is the Book of Mormon different from the Bible? How did Joseph Smith obtain the “golden plates” or Book of Mormon?

Jared
Because God loves His children, He has taught those willing to listen from the beginning. Many prophets have written about their experiences with God, to help their families and others avoid sin and suffering, and enjoy peace and happiness. The Bible is a record of writings from people that lived long ago in or near Israel. These prophets, and the people they taught, learned what God expected them to do, and then God let them choose how obedient (or disobedient) they wanted to be. When they were obedient, they were blessed. When they were disobedient, they had harder times. Many of these experiences among these people are included in The Holy Bible, and are of tremendous value to us because we can learn from their successes as well as their mistakes. During one of Israel's more rebellious times, God punished them by letting another country conquer Israel and take them prisoners. Before this disaster, however, God inspired some faithful families to leave Israel, and He guided them to what we now know as the Americas (the exact location is not known). Those people took with them some records of God's teachings, and they continued to write about their own experiences with God. They wanted to help their children avoid mistakes and make good choices. The records of these people, a branch of Israel, to use a metaphor, were later gathered and made into a short summary that we call the Book of Mormon, because the prophet who wrote the summary was named Mormon (and he lived about 400 AD). Both books teach about Jesus Christ--that we need to study about Him, accept His teachings, follow His instructions, and then He will bless us. Both books are extremely valuable to help us become excellent people, build good communities, and live happy, meaningful lives. Show more Show less

Why are Mormons asked to donate 10% of their income to their Church?

Jared
All money donations to the LDS Church are voluntary. The most common, and encouraged, donations are called tithing and fast offerings. Tithing, as the name suggests, involves donating 1/10 of your annual income to the Church. This money covers the majority of general Church costs. Fast Offerings are used specifically to assist people who are struggling financially, as with job loss, illness, or emergency needs. Other offerings are also available. Donations to the Church's Missionary Fund, help pay for missionaries who have a hard time affording a mission (missionaries are not paid for their service; this money covers cost of living--apartment, utilities, vehicle operating costs, etc). Book of Mormon donations cover publishing costs. Humanitarian Aid assists people involved with natural disasters. The Perpetual Education fund assists people in emerging countries where education costs prevent people from escaping poverty (and this is not a donation--it's actually a loan; upon graduation, the student must repay their assistance back into the system to assist others in similar circumstances). Show more Show less

How are modesty and chastity related? How can parents teach their children to be modest in dress, language and behavior?

Jared
God is actually our Heavenly Father. As His children, Heavenly Father wants us to use our time on Earth to learn, grow, and prove to ourselves who we truly are inside. The few years we are here on Earth give us a chance to taste the bitterness of sin and the sweetness of righteous living. The teachings of Jesus Christ and His messengers through the ages tell us what things are righteous. One of the best ways we can help each other to live righteously is through modesty. When we're modest in the way we dress, talk, and treat each other, it's easier to treat each other like a son or daughter of God. It shows that we really care about others, and want to help them to follow God's instructions. It's not hard--do your best. Be your best. Help others to be their best. Leave temptation to Lucifer--that's his job. Be strong. Be smart. Don't look for trouble. Stand for the Savior, and treat other people the way He would treat them. He suffers when you're immodest. He suffers when you don't care. But when you act like a child of God, people will respect that--and God will, too. When you reach, and grow, and help to lift others, Heavenly Father and Jesus are proud of you. They'll help you in ways that no one else can, and They'll stay with you even if others walk away. Show more Show less

How does the Church finance its operations?

Jared
All money donations to the LDS Church are voluntary. The most common, and encouraged, donations are called tithing and fast offerings. Tithing, as the name suggests, involves donating 1/10 of your annual income to the Church. This money covers the majority of general Church costs. Fast Offerings are used specifically to assist people who are struggling financially, as with job loss, illness, or emergency needs. Other offerings are also available. The Church Missionary Fund, which donations help pay for missionaries who have a hard time affording a mission (missionaries are not paid for their service; this money covers cost of living--apartment, utilities, vehicle operating costs, etc). Book of Mormon donations cover publishing costs. Humanitarian Aid assists people involved with natural disasters. The Perpetual Education fund assists people in emerging countries where education costs prevent people from escaping poverty (and this is not a donation--it's actually a loan; upon graduation, the student must repay their assistance back into the system to assist others in similar circumstances). Show more Show less

How can we stop the spread and influence of pornography?

Jared
Pornography is simply an abuse of a natural relationship approved by God. As our Creator, God provided everything necessary for us to make children. As our Parent and Teacher, He has also provided all of the instructions necessary for us to have strong, faithful, happy marriages, and raise healthy, smart, happy children who are able to contribute meaningfully to their community. Any time we vary from His teachings on this topic, however, we are making a mistake, and have no promise of genuine, lasting happiness, order, or peace of mind. God is an expert: we are all students. Among God's teachings are faithfulness and chastity. Because we are all children of our Heavenly Father, and share the same Savior in Jesus Christ, each one of us is precious, special, and is worthy of our best efforts to help in life. Pornography does nothing to improve, enhance, or truly satisfy its participants. We'd all like a little more respect in our lives; can we expect what we're not willing to do? Without faithfulness, to God first, and to those around us, we will lose order, stability, and peace. This means we have to do our best to learn from God what He wants us to do, and help others learn from God how to improve their own lives. Chastity is faithfulness in marriage. Quite simply, we promise faithfulness in our sexual relations with only the person we are lawfully married to. Any who vary from this promise of loyalty are unfaithful to God as well as their spouse, and the effects can be tragic and widespread. Our children, our spouses, those around us in society, all deserve our efforts to exercise a little self-control, a little self-mastery. It makes us stronger people, keeps our conscience healthy, our hearts pure, and provides the joy of a happy, secure family. Remember: God's power is strong enough to help us when we're weak. If you are tempted, by all means, that is the time to pray! Show more Show less

Do Mormons worship Joseph Smith?

Jared
No. We think of Joseph as a hero, a person willing to stand for his convictions, a person who refused to bow to bullies, or whimper when people threw lies and rumors around town about him. We also believe he was a Prophet of God like Isaiah, Peter, or Daniel. But worship is more than admiration or applause. Worship is deeper, more meaningful--it changes who we are, how we treat others, who we become in life. As a result, Mormons worship the God that Joseph Smith taught about: our Heavenly Father, and the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who because of His atonement and resurrection has become the Savior of all people who will embrace His teachings and covenant loyalty throughout life. So, sure, we love Heavenly Father, Jesus, and Joseph Smith, but we only worship Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Show more Show less

Why don’t women hold the priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? How do Mormon women lead in the Church?

Jared
God is our Heavenly Father. This means that all of humanity are His children. This means that all men are His sons, and all women are His daughters. We are all precious to Him, and He loves and is eager to help each and every one of us out in life. His Son Jesus Christ, the Firstborn of our Father, followed Heavenly Father's teachings perfectly, and became our Savior--the Savior for all of Heavenly Father's children, men and women alike. God does not prefer men or women--he loves us all. But as His children, we are not equals. God gives us all the same teachings--He wants us to love each other, to help each other out, to be patient and forgiving as needed, to be wise and willing to listen and learn. And again, the Savior's Atonement makes it possible for all of our sins to be forgiven when we repent. But this is what They have done. They have prepared the way, and done everything they could to help us--but how we respond to their instructions, their invitations, is up to us. Our choices make us unequal. Some people, men and women alike, have done their best to learn about God and follow His Plan. Others, given the same freedom in the test of life, have tasted this freedom and assumed they could do whatever they wanted. They didn't take the time to study, to learn that once this life was over, they would die, return to God, and be judged on their actions and attitudes developed in this life. This inequality of choices leads to some people being happy, and others ashamed--again, men and women alike, in both groups. As our Creator, God wants balance and order, not equality. Indeed, He likes variety, as we can see in the plants, animals, even the planets and stars around us. To help us in life, and to preserve order and balance, God has given women a tremendous power: the ability to automatically grow physical bodies for our children to use in this life. This power was not given to men. Rather, to preserve balance and value for both sexes, men were given access to Priesthood authority, or permission to act and govern in the name of God (research the difference between oxytocin and testosterone, if you care to explore the chemical side of it). However, in the case of Priesthood, God will only give such permission, or recognize such authority as valid, when men with the Priesthood are living His teachings--the gospel of Jesus Christ. When husband and wife are doing their best to follow God's instructions, their ability to bear and raise righteous, decent, respectable people increases, helping to fulfill God's Plan for us on Earth. Show more Show less

How can we increase our faith in Jesus Christ?

Jared
Faith grows like a seed. If we hear or read something we're curious about, we can study about it and learn how it's valuable (or not). We can then go to God in prayer, and ask Him to clear up any confusion we have, and He will either explain the situation better, or guide us to answers to help solve the problem. In this way, we develop a friendship, a partnership, a relationship with God. We come to understand Him better, and treasure His companionship. To increase our faith in Christ, then, we just keep trying to do better and better at following His teachings. Books filled with His teachings, like the Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon, give us plenty of areas of our lives where we can work. Truly, there's a lifetime of learning in those books. We can learn from their mistakes and avoid doing them in our lives. We can also learn from what worked well, and do those things in our own lives. In some areas, you're already strong--good; keep these strong. In other areas, maybe you're not so strong. Work on these--choose one, and start trying to live it. Pray to God for opportunities to live it; He'll be glad to help. If it gets harder to live them, pray harder for strength, and His grace will help you grow stronger. Once you master one weak area, move on to another. Some will come fairly quickly; others you may not master throughout life. That's okay--it's all part of obedience, and it'll make you a better person. Heavenly Father and Jesus will be delighted by your efforts. The more you follow this pattern, the more you'll come to know, to truly know in your soul, not only that Christ's teachings are true, but that they make us truly happy, and give us inner peace and confidence. They bring us closer to God, and He becomes a regular part of your life. Sure, He may do things differently than you or I--He's God. But the more time you spend with Him, trying to follow His teachings and praying and listening for His answers, the better your relationship with Him will grow. If you follow this pattern, it won't take much time before your faith and hope turn to knowledge and certainty. Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe is the purpose of life?

Jared
Quite simply, life is a period of learning and growth. Before this life, we lived with God as spirits. Once we had learned the necessary early lessons of our existence, we got the chance to come here to Earth and get a physical body to help us develop further. Most of this life is spent trying to learn how to use our physical bodies to benefit those around us and take care of the beautiful planet God has given us for our earthly schooling. Those who hear God's teachings, and try to live them as best they can, basically ace the test and are given great blessings in the afterlife. Those who prefer wickedness, or doing things differently to God's instructions, will not be given blessings, and will lose a measure of their freedom, creating feelings of disappointment, sorrow, and regret. Whether in this life or the next, God wants all of His children to get a fair chance to accept or reject His teachings. In the end, we will be blessed as much as we are willing to obey. Show more Show less

Who are the Mormons?

Jared
Mormons are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Obviously the name is much shorter, and easier to use in conversations or references.) The name is borrowed from an ancient prophet, Mormon, who put together a shortened version of his people's history (an abridgment) in The Book of Mormon. Show more Show less

Where did Mormonism and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints begin?

Jared
The Mormon Church began in upper-state New York, not far from Niagara Falls, in a small farming village called Palmyra. A young man named Joseph Smith, Jr., felt an inner hunger to better understand God and Joseph's own standing before Him. Having read in the Bible that he could ask God for wisdom (James 1:6), Joseph did so, and had a vision where Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph, taught Him a few basic teachings about the gospel, and in time inspired Joseph to organize the church (April 6, 1830). Show more Show less

Why do Mormons perform baptisms for the dead?

Jared
Mormons believe that baptism is a powerful symbol of accepting Jesus Christ's power over death to live again with God. We are baptized to show God, ourselves, and those around us that we are pledging a new life with Christ as our Leader. We believe that our promise of eternal, faithful obedience is what makes His saving power work for our souls. Many people across the planet and throughout human history have never heard about Jesus Christ's teachings, or never had a good chance to accept His leadership over them. We believe that these people will be given a chance to accept--or reject--His teachings in the world of spirits that follows this life. We believe that faithful followers of God, when they die, and enter the world of spirits, continue to share Christ's teachings like they did in life. Everyone gets to choose for himself or herself whether they want to live by Jesus' teachings, or choose other ideas to follow. For those who accept the fullness of Jesus' teachings, we perform baptisms. We believe it is necessary to have someone with a body to represent those who live in the spirit, because, again, the symbol of baptism is about our death, burial, and Christ's power over death--to let us live forever, with God, if we choose Him. And whether the baptism becomes valid for them, or not, depends on their personal choice. For a great sermon on this idea, please read Doctrine and Covenants, Section 138, available at lds.org Show more Show less

What is the Atonement of Jesus Christ? Why was it necessary for Jesus Christ to sacrifice His life?

Jared
God is our Heavenly Father. As such, He loves us, and wants us to become the best people we can be. He loves us, has provided all the teachings necessary for us excel, and is a patient Teacher. He prepared this Earth as a kind of school for our eternal souls--we're here for a short time to learn, grow, and prove to ourselves as well as Him who we really are, or want to be. This is the "test" in the school of life. However, as students, we will make mistakes. Because God's power comes from His perfection, imperfection can't survive in His presence. To solve this dilemma, Jesus Christ volunteered to come to Earth as the Son of God, and was given the power to sacrifice His perfect life to save the rest of us from our imperfections. We call this the "Atonement," or at-one-ment, meaning that He has the power to bring us back to God, clean and pure. The power to make His sacrifice help us, though, lies in each of us: do we really want to accept His offer, and live His teachings, or follow our own ideas? Jesus has experienced every sorrow, every triumph, every struggle, every success, every pain or heartache we've ever experienced, so that He knows exactly how to help us. It's now our job to pray for His help and guidance so that we can grow and improve and overcome the challenges of life. He has the answers, but will wait until we search for them. Show more Show less

What is a ward/stake/branch?

Jared
A ward is a large, well-developed congregation. Because our church has a missionary program across the globe, some congregations are very small and new (once I attended services with eight Latter-day Saints in a group in China). Stakes are simply groups of congregations. Borrowed from the idea of a tent peg, or stake, the idea is that on the stake level of church organization, we have enough people from a wide variety of abilities to cover any need in a local area. In other words, say, if there's a natural disaster, every member can contact the ward leader, or "bishop." If I have a problem that the congregation can't solve, the bishop can call the stake leader, or "stake president," who will then call other bishops in the region to come help out. This means that with two phone calls (me to my bishop, my bishop to my stake president), well over a thousand people can be contacted in a very short time to help solve the problem. Show more Show less

What are Mormon women like? Do Mormons believe in equality of men and women?

Jared
Mormons believe that God is our Heavenly Father. That means that we are all His children--men are His sons, and women are His daughters. This makes us all precious to Him, and gives us all something in common. His Firstborn Son, Jesus Christ, and a perfect follower of God, loved us so much that He volunteered to come to Earth and suffer the penalty that we would get for our mistakes, or "sins," in Earth life. Jesus' sacrifice, or "Atonement," includes all of us--men and women alike. We are all precious to Heavenly Father and Jesus--worth dying for, as Jesus showed. However, not all of God's children are as faithful as Jesus. Indeed, He was the only perfect one at all. The rest of us, for whatever huge variety of reasons, tend to like going our own way, making our own choices, and so on. As a result, we lose "equality" by our own choices--not by sex, race, or anything else. Obviously, anyone who sincerely tries to do his or her best to love God and follow His instructions will build a better relationship with God, than those men or women who ignore or rebel against Him. The choice of our goodness, decency, or faithfulness is up to us. With that in mind, the Mormon Church treasures any sincere followers of God, men or women. The more faithful, sincere, and diligent we become, the better we're able to help out in God's work to improve humanity. There are smart, strong, talented men and women who help out in congregations as well as communities around the world--whether people in need are members of the Church or not. We're all God's children, and therefore valuable, worthy of a helping hand and our faith and prayers as needed. Again, with that in mind, we do not believe that God expects or even desires equality among His children--such a condition would be unnatural and even impossible, because we all have different strengths as well as weaknesses. Instead, by focusing on everybody developing their own talents and skills, we develop large groups of specialists. This means that when a challenge--even a serious problem, like a natural disaster--surprises us, we can quickly and effectively gather our men and women member-specialists together to deal with the problem. Medical problems? We have medically trained members (a female cousin, a neonatal respiratory therapist, recently returned from a trip to South America to help train hospital staff in life-saving techniques for babies born with respiratory problems). Builders and engineers to repair or rebuild buildings? No problem, we have them. Hunger? No problem, we have eager hearts and hands ready to help. Emotional distress? We are all united in prayers of faith and even priesthood blessings of comfort. And so on, men and women alike, working hand in hand, as followers of Christ and children of God. Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe about “eternal life?”

Jared
Mormons believe that God is eternal. As His children, we are also eternal. We believe that we lived with Him before this life, as spirits, and learned all the basic lessons needed to prepare us for this life, on earth, with a physical body. While here on earth, we need to develop certain qualities--faith, love, integrity, etc--in a situation where Heavenly Father isn't looking over our shoulder all the time. He wants us to grow up, to prove to ourselves as well as Him, that we are good, reliable, capable people, even if we're free to do anything. For those of us who do learn to choose right and avoid evil, God has wonderful blessings for us in the afterlife. Just like the pre-earth life prepared us to come to this advanced school on Earth, our learning here is designed to prepare us for still more advanced lessons later. On the other hand, those who don't listen, don't care, or don't follow His instructions, will not be prepared for the more advanced lessons that are waiting. These people will suffer disappointment, regret, and sorrow because of their failure, and they will lose out on opportunities for further growth and development in the afterlife. Show more Show less

What is the Law of Chastity?

Jared
Because God is our Heavenly Father, and we are all His children, He wants us to learn, grow, and improve. This life on Earth is only one phase of our eternal journey. The more we learn about the attitudes and ways of God, and the more we try to live them in our lives, the better we become. The most important attribute taught by Jesus Christ and His messengers (prophets and apostles) through the ages is to love God and love each other. However, many people have taken this basic idea of love and come up with their own ideas about what it means. Fortunately, Heavenly Father has given us the Law of Chastity to help us better understand how we should love each other. Our love for God, for example, is different than the way we love our parents, which in turn is different from love for siblings, or friends, or spouse, or children--or even hobbies, work, or other interests. The Law of Chastity focuses on romantic love, because this is the kind of love that leads to childbirth. God wants us to take special care with this kind of love, because the most important kind of creation we can do in life is forming and raising children. If we prepare for the marriage relationship, then make and keep promises with our spouse, our children will have a much better chance of succeeding in the challenges of life. No doubt the most important preparation we can make as individuals, is learning about God--what He's like, what He expects of us in life, and then pledge to follow His instructions the best we can. If we learn how to respect, honor, and love God, we'll be ready to show the kindness, caring, forgiveness, and wisdom that lead to a successful marriage (all parts of the Law of Chastity). As we practice loyalty, first to God, then to our spouse, we can build the strong trust, and the type of love that can help us through the storms of life. We can build a marriage that our children will respect and honor. With a lot of faith and a lot of effort, we can then help them to prepare for the big day when they choose a special loved one to join them in life's adventure. Show more Show less

What are Mormon Temples used for?

Jared
Mormons typically use two kinds of buildings for worship: churches and temples. Church is like school for the soul, and the temple is like a university. At church, Mormons study the life of Jesus Christ, and discuss ways that we can use his teachings in our lives. Usually, however, only the basics are taught. On the other hand, in Mormon temples, the same principles are taught, but at a more advanced level. This is why even LDS members need to study, practice what we preach, and prepare to go to the temple. Otherwise, we wouldn't understand what we were being taught as well, and it would be harder to live the advanced lessons. (To use a metaphor, going to church is like a buffet for the soul, while going to the temple is like a royal banquet.) Show more Show less

What is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' attitude regarding homosexuality and same sex marriage?

Jared
Mormons believe that we're all children of God, and that God is our Heavenly Father. We believe that He sent us here to Earth to learn and grow, so that when we return home to Him after this life, we'll (hopefully) be ready for still further opportunities and growth. If we don't use our time wisely here on Earth, though, and fail to develop our understanding, faithfulness, and abilities, our future opportunities will also be limited. When we came to Earth, we received a gift from God: a physical body that gives our spirit more experience and more understanding than we could have without it. But we also find, as we learn and grow and figure out how to use these bodies, that we are strong in some areas or attitudes, and weak in other areas. There's plenty to learn, and everybody can improve--that's why it's so important to work together. When we involve Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as active partners in our lifetime of learning, our chances of avoiding pain and mistakes is far better than if we choose to follow other guides (or guidelines, for that matter). One of the most advanced lessons we can learn during our time on Earth is marriage and parenting. The better we understand these lessons, the better an impact we'll have on the world, because not only will we do our best and help out those around us, but we'll train up children who can go help out the people in their lives. Again, if we invite Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ to be active partners in these complex (often frustrating) challenges, we'll be far better off than if we go our own ways. Homosexuality is simply a manmade way--an alternative to God's design. It serves no purpose for God, for it is contrary to His design. Sure, we are all commanded to love one another--but not to love one another sexually. That's kept special, sacred,between husband and wife, which arrangement does serve God's purposes. As our Creator, God physically arranged our species to require a male and a female to create children--to form physical bodies for our spirits. Because we are the children of God, He also arranged instructions to help us balance our minds and emotions, our private and public relationships. By organizing family units with a father and a mother united in a pledge to each other and to God, and by giving all of us instructions to help us make decisions that bring true peace and joy and satisfaction, our children can be all the better raised to be safe, smart, and caring helpers in our homes and communities. Show more Show less

Do you really believe there is a prophet like Moses alive today?

Jared
Yes. The current prophet is President Thomas S. Monson. He has been taught the teachings of God, like Moses. He has embraced God, like Moses. He's committed himself, his life, his abilities, his heart, to God, like Moses. And like Moses, he was called of God, and given permission as well as commandments to guide the followers of God in truth and righteousness. Moses faced a daunting challenge: to lead a huge body of people, teaching them how to be good followers of God. President Monson today faces a daunting challenge: to lead a huge body of people, teaching them how to be good followers of God. Any time you have a huge group of people, you're going to have to deal with many different attitudes and opinions: Moses and President Monson have needed God's guidance, God's power, or they'd never be able to succeed in their assignments. Of course, times change, and so do our efforts. For Moses, he had to lead the Israelites out of slavery and establish them in their promised land. For President Monson, he needs to organize missionaries to travel the globe offering the fullness of the teachings of Jesus Christ to everybody on Earth. As more people join, congregations must then be organized to help meet the needs of the people. Only with God's help could either of them succeed, yet, bit by bit, by their faith and efforts, both of them have made and are making slow but steady progress in completing God's assignments. Show more Show less

Are Mormons Christians?

Jared
Definitely. Once I learned about Jesus Christ, it seemed pretty incredible at first. But once I experimented with His teachings in the scriptures, and got to know Him through prayer, I came to love Jesus with all my heart. I found that when I messed up, I could repent, apologize, change my ways, and when I prayed for forgiveness and a fresh start, He was quick to forgive, and eager to help me make the best of the situation. Thanks to His teachings and example, I now know how to live my own life. He helps us to save ourselves (by obedience), and then inspires us to reach out to help others. Jesus Christ is definitely my Savior, my Leader, and I love Him for what He's done! Show more Show less

What is Mormonism? OR What do Mormons believe?

Jared
Long story short, Mormonism is the study of God, or in other words, the study of truth. Anywhere there is truth, it is part of Mormonism. We believe that God lives, and that He is our Heavenly Father. As such, we believe that He is wise and loving, and that He has given us instructions in life to help us learn and grow. All of His teachings are part of Mormonism. Because each of us is precious to Him, we believe that His two central, greatest commandments are: 1) love God with your whole soul; and 2) love one another. This means He wants to help us in life, and even though He's giving us some space and freedom right now to learn and grow, He expects us to share our life experiences with Him, and to help each other out in life. We believe that those who do these things--include Him in our lives and decisions, and treat others with respect and a sincere desire to help them--will get the best blessings that God has to offer. We also believe that those who don't care, or choose another way, may receive some blessings, but not all. It's all up to us--we choose whether to follow or not follow His instructions. Then He rewards us according to these choices in the afterlife. Show more Show less

Why is authority to perform a baptism important?

Jared
Because God is a God of order, He likes things done the way He likes them. Throughout history, He has tried to give people just enough hints to get them curious about Him--His existence, His ways, His purposes. When we let this curiosity build, eventually we'll experiment. When we experiment, we learn (for better or worse, true, but hey, we can learn from our mistakes as well as our success). This challenge, or test, helps us build our faith--a key ingredient in what we're supposed to learn here on Earth. Unfortunately, faith is a hard lesson to learn. There are plenty of distractions in life that seem to say, "Your attention, here and now," while God waits patiently for us to "Come unto me." As a result, over the centuries, because different people have developed different amounts of faith, we wind up with a huge variety of relationships with God--some who know and love Him and seek His instructions regularly; some who think He was a great person; some who think He (or even "It") might exist, but they're not sure; and some who don't know or even care. In the LDS Church, which started with sincere, faithful prayers and God's answers to them, and continues to this day encouraging all people everywhere to build a good, solid, meaningful relationship with God, to seek regular involvement with God in their life, we've been able to acquire a pretty good idea about Who God is, what He wants, and why it's all so important (to Him and to us). One of the most important lessons God has taught is that to help as many people as possible, we need to be well-organized. This means sharing from the central leaders to the local leaders to the members around the world what God wants done at any particular time. By focusing our attention and efforts this way, we get a long done, done fast, and done the way that God wants it done. Because baptism is such an important step in our spiritual development, where we officially promise to God, ourselves, and those around us to love God and follow His instructions forever, God has taught that those who perform baptism must be called, by Him, to this important position, and given His direct authority to make sure that all things are done in wisdom and order the way He wants them done. This is why the LDS ("Mormons") feel that priesthood authority is so important to run the Church. Show more Show less

What is the role of the husband and the wife in the family?

Jared
As children of our Heavenly Father, each of us comes to Earth with certain abilities, or talents, which we can develop and share with others to help them in life. In a marriage that is based upon God's instructions, and which involves God on a regular basis, (also called the "fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ"), we will be able to do everything God needs us to do here, and we can do it well. The physical bodies our spirits received when we came to Earth are a special gift from God, to help us learn, grow, and help each other out. The way these physical bodies are designed typically help men have more physical strength and muscular development to enable them to do hard work (caused by the chemical "testosterone"). This natural body chemical also gives men a strong drive to lead, defend, and protect their families, communities, and so on. On the other hand, women's bodies have been designed to make a chemical, oxytocin, that tends to give them natural desires to be caring and nurturing. In marriage, then--and especially marriages performed according to God's instructions, by His commissioned authorities, and sealed by God's power for our having so followed His instructions--we have men with natural tendencies to protect and perform physical labor, and women with natural tendencies to care for and help out people. What a great combination to help our children learn and grow and deal effectively with the challenges of life! Add to this all of your personal talents and skills, and your children will not only be able to survive, but to succeed and contribute in great and meaningful ways to society. In summary, then, we believe that the role of the husband is better designed to provide for and protect the family, and women are definitely better designed to create physical bodies for our children, and help them develop a good blend of mind and heart--wisdom and compassion. Of course, all things must be done in partnership, and God wants to be a part of your marriage, so by all means, the more you involve Him, the better off your family will be. Show more Show less

How do I become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church)?

Jared
Because the Church is the Church of Jesus Christ, naturally one must first believe in Jesus Christ--that He is the Son of God, that He arose, perfected, from the dead, and that He has the power to help us become clean from our sins. Second, the way He helps us to become clean from sin is by repentance--that is, even though we make mistakes as we begin to follow His teachings, so long as we work with Him, apologize to Him and anyone else involved when we make mistakes, and do our best to improve our lives, His saving power will help us to overcome any of our weaknesses. Third, when we feel committed to serve God for the rest of our lives, and follow His teachings to the best of our ability, we make our pledge of allegiance by being baptized by an official Church representative (like a missionary or a bishop, etc). This is our way of promising long-term loyalty to the Son of God who has power over sin and death, and in return, we are promised eternal life with God forever. Following our baptism, we need to keep doing our best to do our best. Improve wherever needed. Share our abilities and time helping others. Helping in the congregation as needed. So long as we keep trying to do and be better, with God's help we will get better! Show more Show less

Who chooses the Mormon prophet?

Jared
In the Mormon church, we have the Prophet and his two counselors (similar to Peter, James, and John in the Bible), as well as twelve apostles who make all the official policies and teachings for the church. We believe that all of these leaders were prepared in life by God, and by their faithfulness to His teachings, they have proven that they can stand strong and true against temptations and most normal human weaknesses. By so living their lives, they've learned how to talk with God in prayer, learned how to listen for His instructions, and follow God rather than bowing to peer pressure. Generally, the person who is the Prophet is the apostle who has been an apostle the longest, and is therefore the person most experienced in working with God, and managing the huge, complicated parts of a worldwide church. Today (2010), that person is President Thomas S. Monson, whose words and counsels regularly appear in our church magazine called The Ensign (you can view them on lds.org). In this sense, God, who has power over life and death, decides which of the apostles will live long enough to replace the current prophet. Of course, since prayer is a regular and critical part of the Church, when one prophet dies, no official decision is made until the remaining apostles agree upon the successor by prayer. This allows the ultimate decision to be made by God. Show more Show less

Why was a Restoration of the Gospel needed? Haven't we always had the Bible?

Jared
The Holy Bible is a collection of ancient writings between God and people. As a result, the records it contains are valuable to help us choose good and avoid mistakes. Unfortunately, even with God in charge of things, He lets us make our own decisions and live our lives. This means that people with different ideas, different plans, different hopes, and different values have always been around, and always will be around. Things have never run smoothly for faithful followers of God in any age. We all face challenges that we must deal with to the best of our ability. Of course, when we involve God in our decisions, and pray with sincere hearts and genuine faith for guidance, our decisions will always be better than if we rely on our own strength or wisdom. And we're all learning--God knows this, and His Plan for us offers every help needed to do a great job in life. Of course, learning takes time, takes effort, and sometimes even the followers of God in every age have made mistakes in this learning process of life. Following the death of the Biblical apostles (like Peter, Paul, etc), the original Church as established by Jesus Christ spread so quickly and lacked an effective way to communicate, that confusion easily and often injured the growth of the new members. Limited to writing letters (the New Testament "epistles" are a few examples), and having the central leaders so far spread apart, once the apostles died (most if not all martyred), the local congregations had to do the best they could. With it being a new Church, with new ideas and new ways, people with their various opinions and traditions could easily wander, even when trying to be good. This religious confusion was still going on in 1820, when young Joseph Smith, Jr., was searching for wisdom and guidance. When he learned from the Bible that God was willing to answer faithful, sincere prayers for guidance (James 1:5,6), he followed the instructions and received a powerful answer to prayer. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him in a vision, gave him a few basic instructions, and over the next several years helped Joseph to learn, grow, and clear up the confusion. This is what LDS members ("Mormons") call the "fullness of the Gospel." Not just parts and pieces, but everything necessary to lead and guide all of humanity to further truth and understanding. Show more Show less

Who was Joseph Smith?

Jared
In 1820, in New York state not far from Niagara Falls, a young man named Joseph Smith was curious about his standing before God. Although young (he was only age 14 at this time), he had been taught about God and Jesus Christ, but he'd heard a variety of things from different religions, and so he was confused. He believed that The Holy Bible was from God, and in it, he read that those who lack wisdom could ask God, and receive an answer if they asked in faith (see The Holy Bible, James 1:5,6). Joseph Smith thought about this promise until he decided to experiment with it. He found a place in the forest where he could pray without distractions or interruptions, and in answer to his prayer, was given a vision of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, who gave him a few basic instructions, and then, over the next several years, inspired Joseph how to organize the Church. Over the following decade or so, Joseph Smith and other members continued to pray for guidance and instructions. In answer to their prayers, God shared visions and clarified writings in the scriptures that were confusing. Joseph Smith and the other faithful members tried to do their best to organize the Church based on these answers to prayer. As with Moses and even Jesus Christ Himself, Joseph Smith found that some people were very strong and loyal, while others struggled, and a few even rebelled against him. In 1844, some of these traitors arranged a mob that murdered the prophet and his brother. Many members of the Church wondered who should lead the Church next. The majority of the Twelve Apostles (next to the Prophet in Church leadership) agreed that it was God's will that Brigham Young should follow in Joseph Smith as the second prophet of the Church. The Church was officially organized in 1830 with 6 members from the local area. In the past 180 years since, it has grown into a worldwide church with nearly 14 million members. Show more Show less

Why do some call Mormonism a cult?

Jared
We live in an amazing time in human history. Never before has the human family been able to communicate--even visit--so easily, so quickly, across huge distances. With this ability to talk and move, however, we've found problems as well as benefits. In a word, it boils down to education and personal choices. Wherever we were born and raised, we learned the kind of attitudes and activities of the people around us. Some cultures prefer their history, or treasure the way their parents and ancestors did things. They prefer to follow these traditional ways. Other cultures prefer new ideas, new discoveries, new ways, new inventions. Obviously the differences between these two groups can create problems--even dislike, misunderstandings, and violence. Sometimes it's hard to explore new ideas. And that's not even talking about accepting or even embracing them. As a result, it's easy to wind up with people who like things as they are, and aren't interested in a new idea; people who are curious about the new idea, and study it; people who love the new idea, and adopt it as their own; and still other people who hate something about the new idea, and develop hostile feelings about it. Those who call the LDS faith a "cult" tend to belong to the last group. For one reason or another, they've found something about the Church that they don't like, and rather than embrace or ignore it, they call it names, spread rumors about it, and even accuse it of this or that. There's nothing unusual about any of these reactions--they're part of human nature. We all learn what we study, grow to love what we are truly like, and follow ideas that are most like us. This even happened during Jesus' time, and the Savior taught us to do our best to love everyone, to pray for those who abuse us, and do our best to be peacemakers. Show more Show less

Are there restrictions based on race or color concerning who can join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and have the priesthood?

Jared
Any who come with a willing heart, devotion to Christ, and are doing their best to follow Christ's teachings are welcome to join the Church. We are all children of our Heavenly Father, and Jesus' power as our Savior covers everyone. As children of God, though, each of us develops in our own unique way. Some of us grow very quickly, while for others perhaps more time is needed. This means that certain opportunities, or responsibilities, will be given to some children first, and other children later, when they are better capable of handling it. Priesthood in the LDS Church is not a "right" or title. Rather, it is the authority to act in the name of God. Only those who live God's teachings to guide their lives can receive it, and even then, it is only active when the priesthood holder is living in harmony with God. As a result, throughout history most people have not been given the priesthood. Not that they will never get it--they'll just get it when God feels that they are ready for it. Show more Show less

Can a husband and wife be together forever? Do Mormons believe that families will live together in heaven?

Jared
Yes, all people who obey God's instructions are promised God's blessings. One of His commandments is marriage. Building a marriage on the teachings of Jesus Christ brings obvious blessings. As we worship Christ, He teaches us love, virtue, and kindness. He teaches us to work together, as partners. He teaches us to repent and to seek forgiveness for our mistakes, and to be faithful and steady--even when times get tough. His grace and guidance will always help when we fall short. Because raising children is the most rewarding blessing in life, God wants us to pay special attention to marriage. We need to prepare for it, choose our spouse wisely, and then do our best to keep the marriage strong. If we live Christ's teachings personally, half the stress of marriage will be lightened--and our children will learn from seeing and living the Gospel, that it is a treasure. Because marriage and family are so important to our happiness, God has provided a way to keep our families joined together even after this life. This union happens in LDS temples, where couples are sealed together as husband and wife forever--if they remain faithful to Christ's teachings. If we don't continue to follow Christ's teachings, we have no promise for His blessings; but if we do our best, this family connection provides a huge web of love, concern for each other, and keeps things orderly--a huge benefit here, as well as throughout eternity. Show more Show less

What is the purpose of the welfare services of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

Jared
First, the Latter-day Saints (Mormons) believe that God is our Heavenly Father, and that means that the whole human race is actually a human family. As a result, we view each other as brothers and sisters, and we believe that God's instructions are designed to help us treat each other in that way. Everyone is valuable (as proven by the fact that Jesus suffered for all of our sins, in order to help those who choose to follow Him return to God clean and pure). When God sent us here to Earth to learn and grow, He knew we'd have a variety of strengths and weaknesses. This is helpful in His Plan because it means that the only way we can solve problems is by working together. Where I'm weak, you may be strong, and where you're weak, I may be strong--so let's work together to solve both our problems. This is how the welfare program of the Church works. If you're struggling in some area, let's talk out the situation, and plan for ways you can improve. Depending on your circumstances, maybe you can't physically work to support your family. Fine--then let's find something that you can do to help out, because if you're still alive, God still has something for you to do on Earth. There are thousands of ways people can help out to "earn" whatever help they need. Throwing money at people doesn't solve the problem--that just pays some bills. But if we can train you, educate you, help you to make a better person out of yourself, great--not only can you pay your bills, but you'll earn respect, you'll get smarter, you'll learn how to work with other people, you'll have more happiness and peace and satisfaction in life. You can return home after death with your head held high and your heart filled with gratitude as you tell Heavenly Father about the people you helped in life (who are, after all, His children like you). Show more Show less

Why is self-reliance important to Mormons? Why do Mormons talk about emergency preparedness?

Jared
All of us have come to Earth with a special ability. For some, it's music, or art, or speaking, or inventing things. Sometimes it's not so obvious, like being a good listener, or having a big heart, or being well-organized. The important thing to realize is that we can all use these talents or abilities to improve ourselves and to help others. We don't all need to lead the country or save the planet. But we can help out in our families, improve our school or work attitudes, and make our communities a little better than they were before we got there. If we start small and work hard, we can make a bigger and bigger difference. With education and effort, we can become experts at our talents. This makes us feel better about ourselves, and others will respect us and our abilities more. We can become more useful, more helpful, and because life always throws challenges at us, sooner or later we'll need someone else's talents, and they're going to need ours. If we are prepared, we shall not fear. Show more Show less

Why do Mormons baptize their new members?

Jared
We believe that when we hear the teachings of Jesus Christ, we will face a choice: do I want to accept these teachings and embrace Jesus' leadership in my life; or do I want to follow a different way? If we accept Jesus as our Savior, and embrace His teachings, we make a covenant (or two-way promise) with Him. Basically, we promise to obey God, and He promises to bless us to live with Him in the afterlife so long as we remain faithful. Baptism is a powerful and meaningful symbol. It shows that we are willing to follow Jesus, who, when we die, will raise us to eternal life (we are laid back in the water, then raised up out of it). Water is also a familiar symbol of washing things clean, so we're showing that we believe that with Jesus' help, we're being washed clean and can begin a new, fresh life in Christ. Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe happens to us after we die? What do Mormons believe about life after death?

Jared
Mormons believe that God is eternal. As His children, we are also eternal. We believe that we lived with Him before this life, as spirits, and learned all the basic lessons needed to prepare us for this life, on earth, with a physical body. While here on earth, we need to develop certain qualities--faith, love, integrity, etc--in a situation where Heavenly Father isn't looking over our shoulder all the time. He wants us to grow up, to prove to ourselves as well as to Him, that we are good, reliable, capable people, even if we're free to do anything. For those of us who do learn to choose right and avoid evil, God has wonderful blessings for us in the afterlife. Just like the pre-earth life prepared us to come to this advanced school on Earth, our learning here is designed to prepare us for still more advanced lessons later. On the other hand, those who don't listen, don't care, or don't follow His instructions, will not be prepared for the more advanced lessons that are waiting. These people will suffer disappointment, regret, and sorrow because of their failure, and they will lose out on opportunities for further growth and development in the afterlife. Fortunately, only those who consistently refuse to repent, and openly rebel against God's invitations and commandments, preferring to perfect the art of persecution and hurting others, face "Hell," or being banished from God's presence. Everyone else will enjoy measures of God's power of life, love, and wisdom, and will have more or fewer opportunities for learning and development--all depending on our attitudes developed here. Show more Show less

What are some of the ways that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints helps those around the world?

Jared
Because we believe God is our Heavenly Father, we are His children, and therefore should look at each other and treat each other like brothers and sisters. We should love each other, respect each other, and help each other. We all have areas where we're strong, and areas where we're weak. We believe God wants us to work together to become more "complete" people--smarter, more capable, more confident, able to get along better with each other, and good problem solvers to deal with the challenges of life. This is why every part of the Church focuses so much on service. We try to find people who have a good balance of mind and heart to visit areas where help is needed. These service missionaries talk with the locals, try to find out what the specific needs in an area are. They can then better arrange the needed supplies, and arrange the people needed to solve the problem/s. Service from the heart, not from pay, is always encouraged and preferred. Where needed, however, money can be quickly transferred to assist. We try to teach those we are assisting. Rather than solve the problems for people, we try to teach them, train them, side by side, like brothers and sisters. Once they learn how to deal with problems, they can teach others, and gain independence and confidence. It builds self-esteem as well as a good, decent, respectable sense of community and brotherhood, and at the same time minimizes costs. Show more Show less

Who wrote the Book of Mormon?

Jared
About 600 BC, or about the time of Jeremiah in the Bible, a prophet named Lehi warned the people of Jerusalem to repent, or they would be destroyed and carried away captive. Annoyed by such threats, several people tried to kill Lehi, and Lehi was warned by God to take family and friends and flee Jerusalem. Finding the records of what we now call the Bible (about Genesis through Jeremiah) extremely helpful in guiding their own lives, Lehi and his children kept records of their own dealings with God from that time forth. About 1,000 years later (400 AD), a final prophet, Mormon, wrote a summary of all these records, and called it the Book of Mormon. In 1823, Joseph Smith, Jr., was guided by God to find and translate this book. Show more Show less

Who founded Mormonism and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

Jared
In 1820, in New York state not far from Niagara Falls, a young man named Joseph Smith was curious about his standing before God. Although young (he was only age 14 at this time), he had been taught about God and Jesus Christ, but he'd heard a variety of things from different religions, and so he was confused. He believed that The Holy Bible was from God, and in it, he read that those who lack wisdom could ask God, and receive an answer if they asked in faith (see The Holy Bible, James 1:5,6). Joseph Smith thought about this promise until he decided to experiment with it. He found a place in the forest where he could pray without distractions or interruptions, and in answer to his prayer, was given a vision of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, who gave him a few basic instructions, and then, over the next several years, inspired Joseph how to organize the Church. The Church was officially organized in 1830 with 6 members from the local area. In the past 180 years, it has grown into a worldwide church with nearly 14 million members. Show more Show less

Why do you have 12 Apostles? They were just meant to be around for the time of Jesus Christ, not to be replaced with new apostles.

Jared
Heavenly Father loves all of His children. He wants what's best for all of us, but He wants us to learn how to help each other, as well. Obviously, this creates a huge amount of work across the planet, and helping hands with open hearts are greatly needed! To coordinate the efforts of the Church, God inspired Joseph Smith to follow the pattern set up by Jesus Christ Himself--that is, to have apostles and prophets lead the Church, with local leaders over each congregation to help with immediate community needs. With 6.5 billion people worldwide, twelve leaders are obviously way too few to coordinate the Church efforts to offer our message to every person. As a result, the prophet Joseph Smith and his apostle assistants prayed to know what to do, and was told to arrange groups that we now call the Seventies. The Seventies act as traveling supervisors, so to speak, who coordinate activities between the local congregations and the prophet and apostles. According to the revelation, there may be up to seven groups of these Seventies, or 490 people, as needed. So, long story short, to keep everybody in the Church united and working on the same goals, worldwide, we have each congregation supervised by a bishop; a handful of bishops regularly report to a stake president; several stake presidents report to a Seventy; and the Seventies report to the Apostles. If any information needs to be spread out from the Prophet, the sequence is just reversed--few people can get a LOT done, fairly quickly and easily! Show more Show less

What is the Mormon lifestyle like? How do Mormons live?

Jared
People who follow the teachings of the Church tend to show similar attitudes and attributes--hard working, smart, eager to help others, faithful and dependable, trustworthy and kind. Obviously people are people, and faithfulness to the teachings of Christ vary, but the more genuinely faithful a person is, the more genuinely they live these ways. Jesus' teachings tend to guide our moral choices--that is, they tell us what is right, or acceptable to God, or what is wrong, and will damage our peace and happiness. Otherwise, God gives us plenty of space to make our own decisions: what kind of attitude do I have about learning? What attitude do I have about service and helping others? Do I feel creative, do I like to build, to I like art or music, and so on. Any schooling, any work that is helpful to people and provides food, water, shelter, clothing, etc, makes God happy, and when God is happy, we'll be happy! For example, in my family, I've got a brother who rebuilds muscle cars, a sister who's a hospital receptionist, two brothers and I are teachers (college, high school, and junior high school), one brother is a computer technician, some in-laws are astrophysicists that study how light can be turned into a power source, miners who provide metals and chemicals for factories, and a cousin builds cabinets. Those who follow the teachings of Christ tend to be more happy, more at peace, and more stable than those who does not--we believe, because they involve God in their work, and pray for His help. Show more Show less

What is the Relief Society?

Jared
In the LDS Church, we believe that all people are children of God our Heavenly Father, and that Jesus' sacrifice proves His love for us. Because Heavenly Father and Jesus believe we are all worthy of saving, and loving (at least, as much as we're willing to accept their help), the whole purpose of the Church is to help people in need. Because there are many needs in life--physical, mental, emotional--the Church has organized specific groups so that all people can help as much as possible. One such group, or organization, is the Relief Society, which dates clear back to 1842. In the Relief Society, adult women are able to meet together weekly as part of the worship service, and also meet during the week to learn a new skill or share experiences and talents, or arrange special service projects as they arise. This sisterhood works together with the men's organization, or Priesthood, to meet the needs of the local congregation, or if a situation arises even not related to the Church, Priesthood and Relief Society groups are ready and willing to assemble and help out as needed. Because both groups have a variety of talents, skills, equipment, etc, as well as an open, friendly sense of familiarity, brotherhood, and sisterhood, Mormons can quickly and effectively coordinate their activities to solve even tough problems quickly and effectively at minimal cost. Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe about family?

Jared
Mormons believe that God is our Heavenly Father, and we are His children. We believe that He has sent us here to Earth for a short period of time to learn and grow. Even though we're supposed to develop qualities like faith and how to use our physical bodies to help each other out in life, God wants to help us with our challenges. Because He is wise and filled with love, He has arranged that while we are here, we all require at least two "helpers" to even have a physical body formed--our mother and father. Often, we also have siblings, as well, and if we learn and live God's instructions in these family groups, we can more easily deal with and even enjoy life. All people who obey God's instructions are promised God's blessings. One of His commandments is marriage. The benefits of a marriage built on the teachings of Jesus Christ are obvious. If we worship Christ, He will teach us genuine love and tender affections. He will teach us virtue and kindness. He will teach us to work together, hand in hand, as partners, not master and servant. If we make mistakes, He teaches us to apologize and forgive (humility and compassion). He teaches us faithfulness--to never give up. And He promises help and guidance along the way, if we'll ask for it, listen, and follow His instructions. Because the most rewarding, happifying part of life is raising children, God wants us to pay special attention to marriage. He wants us to prepare for it, to choose our companion wisely, and to do our best to keep the marriage strong and raise our children to be responsible, wise, and good people. (Again, the best way to do this is if we raise our children on the teachings of Jesus Christ). He knows it will be challenging--that's one reason why His grace is so important. With faith, effort, and His grace, we can deal with any challenge that life throws at us. It's so much easier to deal with these challenges if our marriage and family are strong. Because marriage and family are so important to our happiness, God has provided a way to keep our families joined together even after this life. This union happens in LDS temples, where couples are sealed together as husband and wife forever--if they remain faithful to Christ's teachings. Again, if we do not continue to follow Christ's teachings, we have no promise for His blessings. Otherwise, this connection of families provides a huge web of love, concern for each other, and keeps things orderly--a huge benefit here, as well as throughout eternity. Show more Show less

Why don't Mormons drink coffee, tea, or alcohol? What is the Mormon Church's law of health and proper diet?

Jared
Shortly after the LDS Church was organized in 1830, there were some disagreements over the Church's position on popular health practices. As a result, Joseph Smith prayed to ask God what position He wanted the Church to take on health practices. We now call God's answer "the Word of Wisdom." Basically, the word of wisdom tells us that God gave us our bodies as a gift. He wants us to take good care of them, to be smart about what we eat, to eat a balanced diet, and to avoid popular trends because they have a tendency to harm rather than help us. Later LDS prophets prayed for clarification, and today the official policy warns against tobacco, alcoholic drinks, coffee, tea, and harmful drugs. It also encourages us to eat whole grains and limit meat. Those who follow the Word of Wisdom are promised improved health, brain function, and spirituality. Even non-religious groups today have learned scientifically how accurate the Word of Wisdom is (well over 150 years later). The original revelation is found in Doctrine and Covenants, Section 89, which you may view at lds.org Show more Show less

Why is family so important to Mormons?

Jared
In a word, love. People tend to come and go in life. But with family, there's something more, something special. I have family that lives thousands of miles away, who are still precious to me, even though we are limited to phone calls or email. While I've lost contact with countless friends over the years, it's different with my parents, siblings, and now my own wife and child. If a month or two passes without a call or a letter, I feel like I'm really missing out on important chapters in their lives. We've shared all kinds of memories together: some hilarious, some embarrassing, a few really tough, and others deep and moving. Because we shared so many experiences together while young, during our earliest years of development, perhaps you could say that we're like branches growing out of our parents' stem. We've learned to trust each other, and live worthy of that trust. We've learned who are good listeners, who are good advisers, who can lighten our load with laughter or a helping hand. And because we are family, it doesn't matter how far we're spread from the trunk: we share the same roots. Show more Show less

Can you tell me about Mormon customs: how you dress for church, what holidays you celebrate, etc.?

Jared
Mormons believe that God is our Heavenly Father, but we also believe that He is a King. He is intelligent, decent, respectable and refined: in a word, excellent. We believe that as His children, we can become like Him, if we choose to follow His teachings and make His ways our ways. Like any wise, loving parent, He wants what's best for us, and is willing to help us succeed. As a result, Mormons try to do their best and be their best selves. Faithful members try to live their lives like God: by being honest, hard working, eager to help each other out, and living clean, decent, respectable lives. Ideally, this shows in our dress and grooming any day, but on Sundays we dress up, men in suits, women in dresses, to try to keep our worship services formal. How we dress tends to affect how we behave, how we treat each other, even how we talk. As for holidays we celebrate, it varies from country to country or culture to culture, but typically we observe any national holidays in a way that is decent and respectable as well as fun. We try to avoid things that will embarrass ourselves, bring shame to our families, or shame the Church or our God. Show more Show less

To what do you attribute the growth of the Church?

Jared
The God the Mormons worship is our Heavenly Father. As such, all humanity are His children. This means that each of us are valuable, even precious. This gives us a huge help when we are trying to "find ourselves." Each of us is worth love, is worth patience, is worth working to help in life. People like feeling valuable, worth a little time, a little effort, worth a few laughs to brighten dark days, and a helping hand when times are tough. The Church is also very well organized. The more the Church expands across the planet, the more congregations are set up to create a feeling of not only individual families, but also community-families. People like to share their talents and abilities. We feel good when we help each other out. The Church helps us to coordinate these talents, makes us more useful across even a large scale. The Church also teaches about the importance of education, of make something of our lives. The more we learn, the better prepared we are to make a difference in people's lives--a meaningful difference. When we prepare ourselves with learning, we can get a better job--a job that can help other people around us. Nobody does it alone--we all work together to improve society. People like these ideas, these attitudes, because rather than competing and hurting each other, we can combine our efforts to help each other. I believe these are a few important reasons why the Church will continue to grow, expand, and strengthen people and families around the world. Show more Show less

What is faith?

Jared
The Mormons' first Article or Faith, or most important teaching, is "We believe in God, the Eternal Father; and in His Son, Jesus Christ; and in the Holy Ghost." For Mormons, faith is a belief so strong that it moves people to good actions. The best Teacher of our beliefs was Jesus Christ, who taught people ideas at church or at home or on the streets--whenever possible. He lived what He believed, and showed everyone around Him a good example to follow. Mormons believe that we need to study His teachings and example so that we'll know how to live a life that makes God happy. When God is happy, we are happy! If we believe Jesus enough to obey His teachings, and the teachings of His prophets, we are being faithful followers of God. This means that faith also means loyalty, or long-term commitment. Show more Show less

What is a “testimony” that Mormons speak of?

Jared
Like in court, a "testimony" is a person's witness of something that happened. Because all of us will face challenges in life, God offers us helping hands along the way to comfort us, guide us, or inspire us with ideas to deal with the situation. When we listen to His whispers, or pay attention to His followers that help us, our faith in a loving God who really cares will grow. When we hear others share their experiences, their struggles, and how God helped them overcome their challenges, we can also learn and grow, and our faith in and loyalty to God again grow. This is why Mormons believe that testimonies of God's reality and love are so valuable to get, and to share. Show more Show less

What are Mormon church services like? Are visitors allowed at church meetings? Can I attend church?

Jared
Anybody can visit a church service. We believe that we're all brothers and sisters, that God is the Heavenly Father of every human being, and that the only way any of us can be saved from sin and misery is by the power of Jesus Christ. You will find that as you visit our church services, most of the ideas taught will be very familiar: love, decency, helping each other, integrity, virtue, etc. However, we believe that God continues to speak to His children today, and so we believe that we have a "fullness" of God's teachings beyond what you've already experienced. Typically, there are three meetings in a church service: sacrament meeting, sunday school, and priesthood or relief society. Each meeting opens and closes with prayer. In sacrament meeting, we sit as families and have "the sacrament" (also known as communion, the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, etc), sing songs as a congregation, and listen to members of the congregation share small speeches or "talks" on Christ's teachings. (Each week the speakers are different). In sunday school, we divide into groups by age: adults go to Gospel doctrine for more advanced study of the scriptures (there is a teacher, but it's a class discussion); adolescents go to classes with a more watered-down version of gospel topics; and children go to primary for basics like sharing, being nice, forgiving, praying, reading scriptures, etc. Finally, men go to priesthood classes to learn how to be better husbands and fathers (or sons and brothers), while women go to Relief Society classes to discuss ideas for mothering, service, living the gospel, etc. Show more Show less

What is the Word of Wisdom that Mormons talk about?

Jared
Shortly after the LDS Church was organized in 1830, there were some disagreements over the Church's position on popular health practices. As a result, Joseph Smith prayed to ask God what position He wanted the Church to take on health practices. We now call God's answer "the Word of Wisdom." Basically, the word of wisdom tells us that God gave us our bodies as a gift. He wants us to take good care of them, to be smart about what we eat, to eat a balanced diet, and to avoid popular trends because they have a tendency to harm rather than help us. Later LDS prophets prayed for clarification, and today the official policy warns against tobacco, alcoholic drinks, coffee, tea, and harmful drugs. It also encourages us to eat whole grains and limit meat. Those who follow the Word of Wisdom are promised improved health, brain function, and spirituality. Even non-religious groups today have learned scientifically how accurate the Word of Wisdom is (well over 150 years later). The original revelation is found in Doctrine and Covenants, Section 89, which you may view at lds.org Show more Show less

What are some things that tell to you there is a God?

Jared
In a word, nature. The order of Earth's systems--even the cosmos--is perhaps the most abundant evidence of a wise, intelligent Creator. With so many possible sources of chaos and destruction, the fact that ecosystems adjust, life is preserved despite the challenges against it, and perhaps most importantly of all, the fact that people's hearts can change, assures me that our Creator is not only smart, but genuinely cares about His creations. The scriptures, and teachings of the more spiritually experienced, helped me to better define who this Creator is. Other people, throughout history, have been led to search, with hungry souls, for answers. By studying their words and their experiences, I was able to get a more complete understanding of God, and also learned that there were many opportunities available for me to get to know Him better--even personally. Finally, I experimented with these experiences of others, and did find that what happened to them happened to me. I cam to understand that God is not only my Creator, but my Heavenly Father. He is not only smart, but brilliant. He is not only nice, but loving. True, His understanding of love is more advanced than mine, but even when we face challenges and pain, He's right there to help us learn and grow from our experiences. So ultimately, I learned from God Himself that there is a God. Show more Show less

Are all Mormons required to serve a mission?

Jared
Yes. However, I must clarify that in the Church, there are a variety of "missions." You are precious. The Lord needs your talents, your abilities, your help, and we'll be glad to work with you as a team--indeed, as a congregation "family." You will be asked and encouraged to participate, but it's always up to you. One of our most common, noteworthy Church missions is called a "proselytizing mission." A volunteer, usually a young man or a young woman about age 20, or a retired couple with adult children, discuss the possibility with their congregation leader, the bishop. Your request goes to the Apostles, and they ask the Lord where He wants you to serve and share--anywhere around the world. All of these missionaries share the teachings and their witness of the Savior, Jesus Christ, and clarify Heavenly Father's Plan of Happiness. Depending on your personal abilities, or skills, you may perform a service mission, where you help people in struggling communities, or, thanks to our Information Age, you may help with online teaching, media productions, etc. The most important message our missionaries share is: that God lives, and He loves you. Because we're all children of God, and God is our Heavenly Father, we believe that He loves us and would never give us the "silent treatment." By teaching people how to communicate with God in their prayers, people learn how to change their lives for the best. Show more Show less

How can we come to know our Father in Heaven?

Jared
The best way to get to know anybody is to talk with them. We can study about people, we talk talk to others about a person, but nothing can compare to talking with that person yourself. That's what's so great about God being our Heavenly Father. He already knows us, loves us, and wants to help us learn and grow. He wants to be a part of our life, but like a wise parent, He invites us to start the conversation. When we pray, like when we talk with anyone, begin by calling them by name--in this case, "Heavenly Father." We can then talk with Him about what's on our minds. Are things going well? Then by all means, thank Him. Are you having a hard time? By all means, explain the situation and ask Him for advice in a way that's clear for you to understand. Listen to His answers, if you ask for them. Then, because we all depend on the Savior to return to God, close "in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen." Again, like with any relationship, the more you talk with Him, the more you listen, the more you follow His instructions and study the scriptures, etc, the better you'll get to know Him. Show more Show less

Do Mormons only help Mormons?

Jared
No. Mormons believe that God is our Heavenly Father, and that all people are His children. In this sense, we are all one human family. We also believe that all people who come to this life make mistakes, or sin, and need help. Jesus Christ came to Earth as the Son of God, and was given power to help us overcome sin and death, so that we could return to God following this life's teaching and training lessons. As a result, we are all children of God, and all rely on the same Savior, Jesus Christ. That means everybody is worthy of what help we can offer. True, all things must be done is wisdom and order, and sometimes life throws tough challenges at us. But by working together toward common goals, we believe that everybody benefits. Show more Show less

What is the First Vision?

Jared
The "First Vision" is Joseph Smith's description of an early attempt to search for truth and guidance from God. While a young man, he was concerned about his standing before God, and learned from The Holy Bible that if people ask in faith, God will answer them. When he found enough faith and conviction to make the attempt, God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared in a vision to answer His questions. Over the next several years They guided His life and efforts, until he finally organized the Church, and continued to receive guidance on how God wanted things organized in the Church. Although all of his visions are important, the First Vision is perhaps most important of all because it teaches very simple yet very important lessons we all need to learn, such as: 1) there really is a God; 2) He actually loves us; 3) we can pray to Him and expect an answer if we are sincere and willing to follow His instructions; 4) He is willing to lead and guide us in our lives; 5) we don't have to be someone unusual or extraordinary for God to notice us--He loves everyone. Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe concerning the doctrine of grace?

Jared
Because we're all children of our Heavenly Father, we're young, learning, and make mistakes. When God sent us here to Earth to learn and grow, He knew we'd make mistakes. That's why He arranged for the Savior to come--by His power, we could be forgiven of our sins, and return to live with God. However, growth takes time, and effort. Some situations in life can help us grow quickly, while others make us grow more slowly--or can even stop our growth. If we know something is true or right, and that God expects us to do it, if we obey, we will be blessed and grow. If we don't do what He expects, we have no reason to expect blessings for disobedience. This is sin: it's like a spirit sickness that needs to be cured. We cure it by apologizing to God, doing our best to make sure things are well with whoever we offended (and God), and then recommitting with God to do better next time. Once God is satisfied that we've learned our lesson, Christ's atonement erases our sin, and we're cured and can continue growing. Sometimes we don't mess up on purpose, though. Sometimes we don't make a conscious choice to disobey. Some problems we face in life simply come as part of the natural learning process. God doesn't expect us to be perfect instantly--that would be impossible. But He does expect us to improve, to do our best. This is where grace comes in. Because God's justice expects no wrong-doing, we can easily get into trouble. But because of the grace of Jesus Christ, our lack can be covered while we're learning and growing. Eventually, when we've mastered the lesson, we won't need grace for that lesson anymore--He just helped us compensate for the difference until we figured it out. In this way, we can go on from lesson to lesson, becoming better, more complete, slightly more "perfect" people throughout our lives. Show more Show less

Why do Mormons believe in “eternal life?”

Jared
Mormons believe that God is eternal--He lived forever in the past, and will live forever in the future. As His children, we are also eternal (to use a science analogy, matter cannot be created or destroyed; its state changes, depending on circumstances, but it cannot be formed out of "nothing" or be destroyed to "nothing"). We believe that we lived with Him before this life, as spirits, and learned all the basic lessons needed to prepare us for this life, on earth, with a physical body. While here on earth, we need to develop certain qualities--faith, love, integrity, etc--in a situation where Heavenly Father isn't looking over our shoulder all the time. He wants us to grow up, to prove to ourselves as well as Him, that we are good, reliable, capable people, even if we're free to do anything. For those of us who do learn to choose right and avoid evil, God has wonderful blessings for us in the afterlife. Just like the pre-earth life prepared us to come to this advanced school on Earth, our learning here is designed to prepare us for still more advanced lessons later. On the other hand, those who don't listen, don't care, or don't follow His instructions, will not be prepared for the more advanced lessons that are waiting. These people will suffer disappointment, regret, and sorrow because of their failure, and they will lose out on opportunities for further growth and development in the afterlife. Show more Show less

Why do Mormon missionaries proselyte?

Jared
Because God knows what we need to do to be happy, helpful contributors to our communities, He is eager to share this information with us. Like any wise, loving parent, God wants what's best for His children, and will help them out as much as possible. The more we learn and live His plan of happiness--including ideas like virtue, honesty, compassion, selfless service, hard work, kindness, etc--the happier, better people we become. The more we practice these teachings, the more natural they become. People notice the change, or growth, and tend to be curious about the "secret" to our happiness, confidence, and moral courage. This is why we proselytize--to share the secrets of success! Because these kinds of values improve families and communities, it's a great idea to share them. Even twenty minutes of scripture study and prayer a day day make a noticeable difference in our relationships with God and those around us. The more we share good, wholesome ideas with others, the more they'll change their own behaviors without being "forced" by justice systems, law enforcement, etc. People will tend to do good simply because it is good! Show more Show less

Why is it important for us to take care of our bodies? Why are our bodies called temples of God in the Bible?

Jared
Because God is our Heavenly Father, and we are His children, God wants us to learn and grow. To help us in this process, we've come to Earth for special training. This training involves our getting the gift of a physical body, and our learning how to use it to help ourselves and those around us find peace, satisfaction, and joy. If we don't care for our bodies, we will suffer. This offends God, because our body is a gift. And if we don't learn how to use it well, that ruins our whole purpose for getting one. Not only will we suffer pain for this misuse (because a body that is not taken care of will fall apart, run poorly, and cause us more pain), but our ability to help others also lessens. On the other hand, if we listen to God's instructions, if we study His words, and converse regularly with Him in prayer, He will guide and inspire us in ways we can take good care of our bodies, how we can have a more fulfilling and happy life, and most importantly of all, He'll guide us in sharing our talents more effectively and meaningfully with others. When a person invites God into his or her heart and life, and follows His instructions for us, God inspires us in ways we can improve and help others. As a result, we become filled with inspiration, guidance, and other similar effects from His Holy Spirit. Because God is holy, or pure and perfect, when we follow God and are filled with this power, it inspires us to speak and behave more purely and perfectly, as well. This is why the scriptures sometimes use the symbol of a "temple" when describing our body--a temple is a place on Earth where God can commune with, or teach, His children. It is pure and clean, as we should be if we want God to spend more time with us. If we are using our body to follow His instructions and help others, we become more clean and pure, and can be thought of as "temples" where God's Spirit will feel comfortable. Show more Show less

Why don’t Mormons have paid clergy?

Jared
Mormons believe that God is our Heavenly Father, and we are all children to Him. This is why He loves us, cares for us, and is willing to help and even forgive us when we really try to learn and grow and do our best. God's two greatest commandments are, basically: 1) love God and set Him first; and 2) love and help those around you. Everything else He teaches is part of those commandments. For Mormons, humans are all in the same boat: we're all children of God; we all make mistakes while we learn; and we all need help along the way. God holds power over all blessings, and generously shares them with us--especially when we do what He says. Because God gives freely, we believe that we should give freely, as well. As children of God, we can do a lot to help each other through life, and prepare for a happy return to God, who, if we've done well, will be well pleased with our efforts. Mormons who are called as leaders over local congregations are called bishops (or branch presidents, if the congregation is small). They each have career jobs where they earn the money for their lives and family. Because all Mormons are taught to study the scriptures daily, and apply them to our day-by-day lives, and pray regularly at meals, at home, as well as at worship meetings, anyone who is called as a bishop already knows the teachings of the Savior and the Church very well. As a result, we don't have to send them to a college for special spiritual training. Any actively involved, faithful priesthood holder can be called at any time and be quite capable and prepared. We believe that because they were chosen by God to these positions, God's grace will fill in any personal weakness or lack they begin with. Also, the bishop doesn't handle all the needs of the congregation alone. He has two councilors to assist him directly, as well as leaders over the men's organization (the Priesthood), and over the women's organization (the Relief Society), and even over the children's organization (Primary). Almost everyone in the congregation (also called a "ward" or "branch") has a specific calling, or assignment, to help carry a small part of the load. This helps us to learn to work together, to get to know and love each other, and get things done as a "ward family." None are paid; we serve freely and with love, because God gives so freely, and we feel that as His children and followers, we should do likewise. Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe about the Bible? Do they regard it as Holy Scripture and the word of God?

Jared
Because Heavenly Father has sent us all here to Earth to learn and grow, the best way we can learn and grow is with His teachings. Heavenly Father loves us, and wants us to do our best and be our best. All of His teachings are designed to help us achieve those goals. Since the beginning, God has spoken with His children to help them. He knows how to help us, and wants to help us, but He also wants us to explore, to stretch our wings and experience life without His always holding us on His lap or watching over our shoulder. As a result, usually He only talks to us when we come to Him with questions. His answers are precious, and it's a great idea to write them down so we don't forget them. One of the best records we have of God's answers to His children's questions, even from that distant time of Adam and Eve, is the Holy Bible. In this collection of ancient writings, we see examples of faithfulness, disobedience, struggle, tears, triumphs, punishments, and blessings. Enough examples are provided that we in our day will easily recognize mistakes we've made, and similar suffering that has followed. Also, we'll recognize the reward of wise choices, and the happy, peaceful rewards that follow good choices. By applying these teachings to our lives, we can avoid dangers and find more joy in life. Most important of all, the Holy Bible contains the record of Jesus' atonement, crucifixion, and resurrection. These writings, described in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, help us to understand why Jesus is more than just an important person, or a historical figure. We can better understand why Heavenly Father is "well-pleased" with Jesus--whose personal, willing sacrifice has saved countless souls through the ages. Then, in the book of the Acts of the Apostles that follows John's writings, we see what Jesus' followers did after Jesus returned home to God: they went out to spread the word, to invite all the people they could to learn about Jesus, embrace His teachings, and look forward to a happy homecoming in the afterlife. Truly, there is much we can all learn from the Bible! Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe about Jesus Christ? Do Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?

Jared
God is our Heavenly Father. As such, He loves us, and wants us to become the best people we can be. He loves us, has provided all the teachings necessary for us excel, and is a patient Teacher. He prepared this Earth as a kind of school for our eternal souls--we're here for a short time to learn, grow, and prove to ourselves as well as Him who we really are, or want to be. This is the "test" in the school of life. However, as students, we will make mistakes. Because God's power comes from His perfection, imperfection can't survive in His presence. To solve this dilemma, Jesus Christ volunteered to come to Earth as the Son of God, and was given the power to sacrifice His perfect life to save the rest of us from our imperfections. We call this the "Atonement," or at-one-ment, meaning that He has the power to bring us back to God, clean and pure. The power to make His sacrifice help us, though, lies in each of us: do we really want to accept His offer, and live His teachings, or follow our own ideas? Jesus has experienced every sorrow, every triumph, every struggle, every success, every pain or heartache we've ever experienced, so that He knows exactly how to help us. It's now our job to pray for His help and guidance so that we can grow and improve and overcome the challenges of life. He has the answers, but will wait until we search for them. Show more Show less

What is the Church's position on abortion?

Jared
Because all people are children of Heavenly Father, each of us is precious. As a result, God wants all parents to try to prepare themselves mentally, emotionally, and physically to have children, so they can raise them to be happy, healthy, and responsible. Obviously things don't always work out this way. As a result, we need to do the best we can with what we have. If we are capable of creating the child, and it being born without severe health issues, God will do all in His power to help the parents succeed in their efforts to raise the child. If the mother's health, or the baby's health is in serious jeopardy, we need to pray to God to explore the options. Occasionally, to save mother and/or child, abortion may be the best remaining option (but is always a last resort). If rape was involved, and the assailant may pose a health risk, this is another extreme situation where careful prayer and consideration will lead to the best solution. If, on the other hand, a pregnancy develops and the baby and mother have no severe health risk, but the mother/parents are unable or unwilling to support the baby's upbringing, adoption is easily a better choice than abortion. Many people, for some reason or another, are unable to create a child--you make make their dream come true, or even be an answer to their prayer by letting them adopt the child. Again, because these are God's children, and He wants what's best for them, prayer is always a great idea. God will be glad to give you ideas on how to best deal with the situation. Abortion should always be a last, emergency, resort. Show more Show less

Which of the Savior’s teachings have influenced you in your life?

Jared
The Savior's teachings are like chemicals--they are guaranteed to react, or make changes in our lives. If we respect and honor them, they can bring tremendous peace and joy to our lives. They can help us to become powerful influences for good in our homes and communities. Likewise, if we treat them carelessly or unwisely, we can suffer pain, misery, and chaos. My favorite of the Savior's teachings is love. Love can be simple, but at the same time it can also be challenging. Cheap imitations of love can easily be seen around us, but real love, the Savior's love, takes study, effort, and practice. If, for example, I learn of a neighbor who's struggling to build a fence, and I offer to help, and when we're done I hold out my hand and ask him to pay for my help, is that love? No, that's work. If, on the other hand, I help him, and the only pay I ask for is a handshake, a laugh or two, and maybe a cold glass of ice water, this is love. This is the kind of love that will make communities where we actually want to live. Indeed, the Savior's kind of love always involves service--genuine service, help from the heart, help that is not greedy, but shares the joy of friends and neighbors, treating other people like one of the family. Because after all, God is our Heavenly Father. That makes us His children, and so the whole human race is family. Obviously patience, forgiveness, and other values branch from it, but I'd have to say that love is the root. Show more Show less

Who is the Mormon prophet today?

Jared
In the Mormon church, we have the Prophet and his two counselors (similar to Peter, James, and John in the Bible), as well as twelve apostles who make all the official policies and teachings for the church. We believe that all of these leaders were prepared in life by God, and by their faithfulness to His teachings, they have proven that they can stand strong and true against temptations and most normal human weaknesses. By so living their lives, they've learned how to talk with God in prayer, learned how to listen for His instructions, and follow God rather than bowing to peer pressure. Generally, the person who is the Prophet is the apostle who has been an apostle the longest, and is therefore the person most experienced in working with God, and managing the huge, complicated parts of a worldwide church. Today (2010), that person is President Thomas S. Monson, whose words and counsels regularly appear in our church magazine called The Ensign (you can view them on lds.org). Show more Show less

What blessings can we receive through the gift of the Holy Ghost?

Jared
The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead, and works in perfect partnership with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ to help us learn and grow well in life. His influence can be felt by anybody when they live righteously, but a divine right to His constant companionship only happens when we are given the gift of the Holy Ghost. When we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, He will "whisper" or communicate with our spirit through ideas and emotions that guide us to live righteously. He will confirm any truth we investigate and ask God about. He will comfort us when we suffer and seek God. He will clarify confusing problems when we ask God for solutions. And when we listen to His guidance, and live righteous lives, we will be rewarded with "love, joy, peace," etc (see the Holy Bible, Galatians 5:22), as well as answers to our questions. If we choose to do unrighteous things, however, we move ourselves away from the Holy Ghost. As a result, it's harder to hear, feel, or understand His counsels. Once we repent, and apologize to God, we then move closer to Him and are able to more clearly understand His instructions and feel His approval. By paying attention to these things, we learn what is good or right, and what is evil or not right. That's why the gift of the Holy Ghost is so important following our baptism--to help us stay true and faithful on the path home to God. Show more Show less

How are the activities of the Mormon missionaries funded?

Jared
As a volunteer service to God and the LDS Church, all missionaries that can pay their way. Because many of the missionaries are young and lacking quite enough funds, often they get help from family members. In the event that a person wants to go but can't support it, and family assistance doesn't satisfy the funds, members of the Church in general can contribute a voluntary offering for the Church Missionary Fund. Show more Show less

What is being a Mormon like?

Jared
Many people want to know who they are. They spend a huge amount of time and effort searching, trying to find the answer to this question. It's a good question to ask, because however you answer it, that answer will guide you in becoming whoever you decide to become. Sometimes this leads to a happy ending. Other times it can lead to suffering and misery. As a member of the Church, the first, most basic truth we embrace, is that God is real, and He is our Heavenly Father. We believe He is perfect, that He is wise and uses laws to govern the universe (His creations). We believe that He is a loving Person, as well, and that He truly cares for the well-being of all of His creations. Because of these qualities, we believe He is perfect, complete, and worthy of our attention and respect and loyalty. This is why He teaches us to be honest, to be decent, to help each other. Knowing these things helps Mormons have confidence and kindness, a good sense of who we are, why we're here on Earth, and answers some of the tough questions we face in this life, like why bad things happen to good people, and how we can become clean and forgiven, and find inner peace when the world around us seems to be crumbling and falling apart. We also believe that God has specific desires for each of us. He wants us to succeed, He wants us to help out in our families and communities. He expects us to do our best to learn and grow and improve. He's willing to help us if we're stuck. He wants us to share our talents, time, and abilities with people who are struggling. This is the reason the Church expects a lot of its members--there are people who need our help, and if we work together, as a team, as a community-family, we can solve even tough problems. It's great being a Mormon! Show more Show less

What is done with the tithing that Mormons pay?

Jared
All money donations to the LDS Church are voluntary. The most common, and encouraged, donations are called tithing and fast offerings. Tithing, as the name suggests, involves donating 1/10 of your annual income to the Church. This money covers the majority of general Church costs. Fast Offerings are used specifically to assist people who are struggling financially, as with job loss, illness, or emergency needs. Other offerings are also available. The Church Missionary Fund helps pay for missionaries who have a hard time affording a mission (missionaries are not paid for their service; this money covers cost of living--apartment, utilities, vehicle operating costs, etc). Book of Mormon donations cover publishing costs. Humanitarian Aid assists people involved with natural disasters. The Perpetual Education fund assists people in emerging countries where education costs prevent people from escaping poverty (and this is not a donation--it's actually a loan; upon graduation, the student must repay their assistance back into the system to assist others in similar circumstances). Show more Show less

Mormons believe Jesus Christ is their Savior. Why do we need a Savior?

Jared
God is our Heavenly Father. As such, He loves us, and wants us to become the best people we can be. He loves us, has provided all the teachings necessary for us excel, and is a patient Teacher. He prepared this Earth as a kind of school for our eternal souls--we're here for a short time to learn, grow, and prove to ourselves as well as Him who we really are, or want to be. This is the "test" in the school of life. However, as students, we will make mistakes. Because God's power comes from His perfection, imperfection can't survive in His presence. To solve this dilemma, Jesus Christ volunteered to come to Earth as the Son of God, and was given the power to sacrifice His perfect life to save the rest of us from our imperfections. We call this the "Atonement," or at-one-ment, meaning that He has the power to bring us back to God, clean and pure. The power to make His sacrifice help us, though, lies in each of us: do we really want to accept His offer, and live His teachings, or follow our own ideas? Jesus has experienced every sorrow, every triumph, every struggle, every success, every pain or heartache we've ever experienced, so that He knows exactly how to help us. It's now our job to pray for His help and guidance so that we can grow and improve and overcome the challenges of life. He has the answers, but will wait until we search for them. Show more Show less

What is the priesthood?

Jared
The priesthood is authority from God used to help His children. This authority is not a birthright, but is earned through personal faithfulness. The teachings of Jesus Christ help us prepare to deal with the challenges of life. Once we are prepared--mentally, emotionally, and spiritually--to be responsible, and help people to improve their lives, the way God wants us to help each other, we are worthy to get the priesthood. As our Creator, and to preserve order and balance in life, our Heavenly Father has given women the power to create physical bodies for our children, and has arranged that men receive the priesthood. However, the priesthood authority is only valid while living God's other teachings, as well, so even if a man receives the priesthood, he is only allowed to use it in God's service, and must therefore be living life with a Christlike attitude. This is why Mormons teach that only "worthy male members of the Church" receive the priesthood. Because this is a huge responsibility, and it takes time and experience to develop these attitudes and wisdom, God has instructed the LDS Church to have a preparatory priesthood as well as the full priesthood. The Aaronic Priesthood, usually given to adolescents to help them grow up spiritually, has lots of service duties. The Melchizedek Priesthood is the full priesthood, given in adulthood when management duties need more wisdom and experience. (Also see Doctrine and Covenants, Section 107, verses 1-20 for more detailed information.) Once the priesthood has been given (by people holding the priesthood, in a prayer with the laying on of hands), that priesthood holder can now do anything God needs him to do--baptism, temple ordinances, leading church meetings, blessing the sick, etc. This is how God keeps everything orderly and systematic in the Church. Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe about the Holy Ghost? Who is the Holy Ghost?

Jared
The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead, and works in perfect partnership with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ to help us learn and grow well in life. His influence can be felt by anybody when they live righteously, but a divine right to His constant companionship only happens when we are given the gift of the Holy Ghost. When we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, He will "whisper" or communicate with our spirit through ideas and emotions that guide us to live righteously. He will confirm any truth we investigate and ask God about. He will comfort us when we suffer and seek God. He will clarify confusing problems when we ask God for solutions. And when we listen to His guidance, and live righteous lives, we will be rewarded with "love, joy, peace," etc (see the Holy Bible, Galatians 5:22), as well as answers to our questions. If we choose to do unrighteous things, however, we move ourselves away from the Holy Ghost. As a result, it's harder to hear, feel, or understand His counsels. Once we repent, and apologize to God, we then move closer to Him and are able to more clearly understand His instructions and feel His approval. By paying attention to these things, we learn what is good or right, and what is evil or not right. That's why the gift of the Holy Ghost is so important following our baptism--to help us stay true and faithful on the path home to God. Show more Show less

What blessings can you receive from reading the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and other scriptures?

Jared
Mormons believe that God is our Heavenly Father, and all people are His children. As a result, He has a natural love for all of us, and an eager desire to help us learn and grow. Our life on Earth is simple a phase of this eternal growth. Once we die, we'll actually return to Him, report on what we've done and show Him how we've used all that He's given us, and what we've become here will determine our options for future growth and development. Because we are constantly being tested by life's challenges, it's easy for people to wonder why they're here, or why they have to go through some of life's tough experiences. In our search for answers, we can find many records of people throughout history. We can learn secrets to success from their triumphs, and also learn from their mistakes. In the scriptures (for the Latter-day Saints, or "Mormons," this means the Holy bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, all of which are available to view online for free at lds.org), we learn about God--what He's like, who He is, what He expects of us, etc. Basically, we learn what we need to learn in life, to return home prepared for future opportunities. Two groups of these teachings are particularly important to study, practice, and use to help others around us: attributes and skills. Attributes are things that make us who we are--honesty, virtue, kindness, compassion, love, etc. God is perfected in all of these things, so if we want to feel comfortable in His presence, we need to develop these things, too, or we'll feel awkward and ashamed. Skills include things like helping each other, sharing, teaching, service, and improving our homes and communities around us. By nature, many animals live in caves or burrows. We don't need to live in caves--as His children, God has given people the wisdom and power to improve our surroundings, and solve problems we face. The scriptures give us ideas as well as examples to help us build attributes and skills. When we involve God in this learning process, we not only improve ourselves and others, but we build strong, heartfelt relationships with God. As a result, when we return home, God will not be a stranger to us, but a loved, trusted Heavenly Father, together with His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, and all the other faithful and valiant followers of God throughout the ages. Show more Show less

What will the Mormon missionaries talk about when they visit my home?

Jared
As representatives of the Church, missionaries will start with the basic teachings of the Church, and go from there. They will give you a basic outline of what we believe, discuss ideas with you, and offer you a free copy of The Book of Mormon. They will ask you to read and pray about this book. They will also invite you to visit a local congregation to see what it's like at our weekly worship services. After a few weeks or so, if it's something you like and you feel that God has answered your prayers sufficiently, the missionaries will invite you to join by being baptized a member. If you do not wish to be baptized, you may keep your copy of the Book of Mormon for your own enjoyment, free of charge. The missionaries may stop visiting you, or a member of your local congregation may be invited to continue visiting you, at your request. Show more Show less

How can I find someone to talk with, in person, about the Mormon religion?

Jared
The best way to learn about a Mormon is from a Mormon. A faithful, actively-involved Mormon will give you better information and a better example of what Mormons really believe and what Mormons are really like, than any other source. Also, LDS (Mormon) missionaries travel the world, and will be glad to meet with you and explain our beliefs, answer any questions, and will be able to show you where the nearest meeting place is for worship services. One of the things they will share with you is a free copy of the Book of Mormon, which is a great source for information on our beliefs. Of course, if you are reading this, on the Internet, you will be able to request missionaries on this website, or, if you like, you may visit the official Church website at lds.org for a great introduction to our beliefs, lifestyle, and teachings. Show more Show less

What is the difference between attending a Mormon Church and a Mormon Temple?

Jared
Mormons typically use two kinds of buildings for worship: churches and temples. Church is like school for the soul, and the temple is like a university. At church, Mormons study the life of Jesus Christ, and discuss ways that we can use his teachings in our lives. Usually, however, only the basics are taught. On the other hand, in Mormon temples, the same principles are taught, but at a more advanced level. This is why even LDS members need to study, practice what we preach, and prepare to go to the temple. Otherwise, we wouldn't understand what we were being taught as well, and it would be harder to live the advanced lessons. (To use a metaphor, going to church is like a buffet for the soul, while going to the temple is like a royal banquet.) Show more Show less

What is the Book of Mormon?

Jared
Because God loves His children, He has taught those willing to listen from the beginning. Many prophets have written about their experiences with God, to help their families and others avoid sin and suffering, and enjoy peace and happiness. The Bible is a record of writings from people that lived long ago in or near Israel. These prophets, and the people they taught, learned what God expected them to do, and then God let them choose how obedient (or disobedient) they wanted to be. When they were obedient, they were blessed. When they were disobedient, they had harder times. Many of these experiences among these people are included in The Holy Bible, and are of tremendous value to us because we can learn from their successes as well as their mistakes. During one of Israel's more rebellious times, God punished them by letting another country conquer Israel and take them prisoners. Before this disaster, however, God inspired some faithful families to leave Israel, and He guided them to what we now know as the Americas (the exact location is not known). Those people took with them some records of God's teachings, and they continued to write about their own experiences with God. They wanted to help their children avoid mistakes and make good choices. The records of these people--a "branch of Israel," to use a metaphor--were later gathered and made into a short summary that we call the Book of Mormon, because the prophet who wrote the summary was named Mormon (and he lived about 400 AD). Both books teach about Jesus Christ--that we need to study about Him, accept His teachings, follow His instructions, and then He will bless us. Both books are extremely valuable to help us become excellent people, build good communities, and live happy, meaningful lives. Show more Show less

How can faith in Jesus Christ influence us in our marriages and family relationships? in our friendships?

Jared
Because God is our Heavenly Father, we are all precious in His eyes (and heart!). As His Son, Jesus is filled with His love, and His Atonement (suffering for us) covers every man, woman, and child that has ever been on Earth, or will yet come here. Again, we are all precious in Their eyes, even if they can only bless us as much as we are willing to receive (He will never force us to be obedient). Each of us can learn great lessons from these basic family facts. As children, we can be like Jesus, faithful, obedient, diligent, and loving as our parents teach us (hence a commandment like "honor thy father and thy mother"). As parents, we need to be worthy of that kind of obedience and respect. If we live good, honorable, respectable lives, it'll be much easier for our kids to respect us. Perhaps most importantly, fathers and mothers need to love and respect one another, because their example teaches their children how to be as adults. If we make mistakes as parents (and we all will--that's part of the learning process), we can teach our children about apologizing, forgiveness, and doing better in the future. Among the kids, brothers and sisters also learn from Jesus' example. Because we are children of God, and Jesus is the Son of God, Jesus is actually helping His brothers and sisters here on Earth. As the Firstborn, He is the oldest, and His example and teachings can help us to learn how to be loving, helpful, and wise brothers and sisters to each other. This is why, in the LDS Church, we call each other "Brother" or "Sister" so-and-so (usually the last name). For example, at church, other people call me "Brother Jared," (I prefer being called by my first name). By calling each other Brother or Sister ~, it helps us to remember that we are all one big family in God. It helps us to get along better, treat each other more kindly, be more eager to help without expecting a reward, etc. Show more Show less