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Hi I'm Kathryn

I'm a Mormon. My beliefs define who I am and what I want to become.

About Me

Hi! I'm Kathryn. I'm a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was born and raised in Salt Lake City in 1948. I have been married for 45 years (to the same kind, incredibly patient man). Together we have two grown children -- a son and a daughter. I am a retired computer programmer/systems designer who loves to travel, garden, write, attend the theatre, talk about my faith and spend time with my pets.

Why I am a Mormon

I am a Mormon for a number of reasons, the first of which being that I was born to Mormon parents, who taught me what they believed to be true and encouraged me to be baptized and confirmed at the age of eight. For a number of years, that is pretty much the only reason why I was a Mormon. I am almost 62 years old now. A lot has happened in the forty-four years since I was baptized. I am a Mormon today, not because I was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church at the age of eight, but because I am convinced that the teachings of the Church are true and that the authority Jesus Christ gave to His Apostles anciently is again on the earth. Everything I have read on the subject of the early Church has convinced me that a universal apostasy did, in fact, take place soon after the deaths of the Apostles. Throughout the New Testament, these twelve chosen men warned that this was to happen. Paul seemed particularly concerned about the infant Church and frequently voiced his concerns to the early Christians. Among his statements to Christ's followers, are these: Acts 20:29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition… Galatians 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel… 2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears… Paul made it absolutely clear that the flock would not only be attacked, it would not be spared, that Christ would not return to the earth until this universal "falling away" or "apostasy" had taken place, that these things were already beginning to take place as he spoke, and that the doctrines taught by the Savior would, in time, cease to endure. When I came to realize that the Church Jesus Christ had established had ceased to exist in its original form, I began to understand why it was so essential that He be a part of the re-establishment of that Church. While the Apostles predicted that a universal Apostasy would take place following their deaths, they also spoke of hope in a Restoration of that which was lost. As recorded in Acts 3:19-21, Peter prophesied of this restitution or “apokatastasis” also translated as reconstitution, restoration or re-establishment "when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” He did not specifically state when it would take place. However, he did say that Christ will not return until “the restitution of all things” had occurred. In other words, the second coming will take place after “all things” have been restored. The two events will not take place simultaneously. The Greek word for “until”, as used in this instance, is “achri.” It denotes completion of an act or event as in the statement, “You can’t go to the movies until you’ve cleaned your room.” Other examples of this usage are found in Luke 1:20, Romans 8:22 and Revelation 17:17. In Revelation 14:6, John too spoke of the Restoration, when he described seeing "another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people…" Upon becoming convinced that a Restoration of the original Church had been foretold, I stopped to consider just how many churches on the earth today claim to be that Church. Of course, I knew that mine did. But were the doctrines I'd always been taught really taught anciently? Study and prayer convinced me that they were, and I grew to love learning what the Christians of Jesus' day really believed. Amazingly, so much of what I read confirmed in my mind that they believed very much what I had been taught to believe! The Church of Jesus Christ really does exist on the earth today, and if He were to attend one of our worship services, He would find nothing amiss about what we believe or teach. I am a Mormon because I desperately need what the Church of Jesus Christ has to offer me -- direction and purpose in my everyday life, consolation and comfort in times of trial and sorrow, and hope for something amazingly wonderful after I die. I've often thought that if the Church isn't true, it should be! The doctrines of the Church help me understand that God didn't place me here on earth for His amusement, nor did He create me out of a need for my eternal praise and adoration. He created me for an entirely unselfish reason -- that I might have joy! He created me because He wanted me to be able to have all the blessings He could possibly bestow on me. He is not offended by my desire to be like Him. He is honored to know that I love Him so much that I want to be everything He has given me the potential to be. He doesn't look at me as a vile, depraved creature but as His daughter, as a daughter who occasionally makes mistakes, but whom He loves dearly in spite of my failures. He is the perfect parent, and when I stop to think about how much my earthly parents loved me and what they would have done for me, I realize that His love for me must exceed anything I can imagine. I love knowing that His Plan is not limited to those who were fortunate enough to hear the restored gospel during their lifetimes, but allows for every man, woman and child who has ever lived to hear the good news before it is too late. I cherish my understanding of what is happening today in the Spirit World and am so grateful that He has provided a way for all of us to return to His presence someday. Billions have lived and died, having never heard of Jesus Christ. How, never having heard of Him, could they possibly be accepted to believe in Him or trust Him to save them? How wonderful that God is going to give them a chance to not only hear His gospel, but to actually make a decision themselves to accept it! What relief they must feel when they realize that they can repent of their sins and be forgiven of them! I am a Mormon because I believe we as Latter-day Saints are taught to practice what we preach. I spend a great deal of time online, on religious discussion forums and am always so gratified to see the way in which the LDS members of the forums conduct themselves. Our love for God is real and that means it must extend to our brothers and sisters who are not members of our Church. There is not a day that goes by that we cannot show them what we stand for. Sometimes it involves nothing more than patiently explaining what we believe to a hostile listener. At other times, it involves service to someone less fortunate, or a donation to the Church's Humanitarian Fund. But it's true Christianity in action. It is not just a once a week Church, but a way of life, a wonderful, fulfilling, satisfying way of life. I guess, in summary, I am a Mormon because... 1. I was born into a Mormon household where I was taught by example by good parents who loved me and wanted only the best for me. 2. I am convinced that both an Apostasy and a Restoration are realities. 3. I find the doctrines the Church teaches to answer my questions. I find no gaping holes in them or mysteries that "we're not supposed to understand" in its teachings. 4. I am lifted up rather than brought down by its message. 5. I can, and am expected to, put its teachings into practice every day of my life.

How I live my faith

I try to live my faith by being a good example of what I believe a Latter-day Saint should be. To me, this means serving my fellow human beings in whatever ways I can. Oftentimes, I have rendered service as a part of my Church "callings." More often, though, I have found my own ways to serve in my community. Some of the most memorable ways in which I have been able to serve are these: Almost twenty years ago, just prior to the colapse of the former Soviet Union, I became aware that a fairly large number of refugees were coming to the United States and that a sizable number of them were being resettled in Salt Lake City. My husband and I decided to volunteer as sponsors for one family, a man and his wife and their young son. These three wonderful people had literally fled Azerbaijan for their lives. As believers in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, they were persecuted mercilessly by their Muslim countrymen for their beliefs. Thinking about the persecution of members of my own church who had been driven from their homes in the dead of winter by their fellow Americans, my heart went out to this family. As part of our commitment to them, we furnished an apartment for them, helped them find jobs and learn to adapt to life in a free country. We became very close to this family and even though they have moved to another state, have maintained an enduring friendship with them. A few years later, we sponsored another refugee family. This family a man, his wife and their daughter and son was from Bosnia. They were Muslims who had been forced from their homes by so-called Christians. They spoke less English than the family from Azerbaijan had, and we had less in common with them than we'd had with the first family we'd sponsored, so I realized at once that this experience was going to present us with a new set of challenges. It, too, turned out to be very rewarding. One of our goals was to help them realize that it's wrong to judge people by their their ethnicity or their religion. I believe we were instrumental in helping them come to realize that not all Christians were like the ones who'd driven them from their homes and killed their relatives. Conversely, we grew to respect them and their religious traditions and were their guests at a wonderful feast celebrating the conclusion of Ramadan. I have had a number of other experiences serving my fellow human beings, all of which have enriched my life. I have volunteered teaching English as a second language to immigrant families as well as literacy and reading skills to American adults who had never learned to read. I also volunteered with the Red Cross when families from the New Orleans area were being temporarily relocated in my city following Huricane Katrina. All of these experiences have given me the opportunity to show others what I believe it means to be an LDS Christian. My Church "callings" have included working with the children, the teenage girls, the women and new members and prospective converts. I love teaching adults. My favorite callings have been teaching Relief Society which is the Church's women's auxilliary and Gospel Principles lessons tailored for people who are either newly baptized, thinking about joining the Church or just need a "refresher course" in the gospel basics. For eleven years, I served as a Building Hostess at the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City. This was my very favorite Church calling. As a Hostess, it was my privilege to welcome visitors to the building's 26th floor observation deck where they could take in magnificant views of Salt Lake City. I was able to meet visitors from around the world and to point out some of the city's most interesting and important sites. In this capacity, as a non-proselytizing part-time church service missionary, I loved being in a position where I could leave first-time visitors to Salt Lake City with information that would help them enjoy their trip to the Church's headquarters. Recently, my husband and I served as part-time missionaries with the Church's Hispanic Initiative. We were assigned for two years to a small Spanish branch about twenty-minutes away from our home. During this time, we did not attend church at our own ward congregation but with Spanish-speaking members of the Church here in Salt Lake City. We were able to get to know so many of these wonderful Church members and help newly baptized members learn more about the gospel.

What is the Book of Mormon?

Kathryn
How many, many times I've heard this question over the years. It's frequently followed by, "Is it your Bible? Don't you accept the Bible as the Word of God? We definitely do accept the Holy Bible as the word of God. It ranks as foremost among our Church’s “Standard Works”, or four books which comprise the LDS canon. On the other hand, we do not believe that the Bible is the sole word of God. We believe that God has said much more than has been assembled in that single volume and that He is still not through speaking to us. The Bible, of course, contains both the Old Testament and the New Testament, the New Testament being a witness to the divine mission of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon is yet another testament of Jesus Christ. It is the history, both religious and secular of several groups of people whom we believe we led by God to the American continent in ancient times. By far the largest portion of the book describes two civilizations, the Nephites and the Lamanites, who were both descendents of the House of Israel, and who lived on this continent between about 600 B.C. and 400 A.D. When Jesus Christ spoke to his followers in the Holy Land, He is recorded in the Gospel of John as having said, “Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” He also said that His own personal mission was only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. So who were the “other sheep” of whom He spoke, people who were evidently not living in the Holy Land but who were, at the same time, of the house of Israel? We believe they were the people whose story is told in the Book of Mormon. After Christ’s resurrection, he stayed among his Apostles and others for a time. But, according to the Book of Mormon, before He returned to heaven where He now awaits the time of His Second Coming, He visited the people of ancient America. He established His Church here, teaching exactly the same gospel of love, forgiveness and mercy He had taught in the Holy Land. The Book of Mormon is an account of a 1000-year history of some of the people of ancient America, and includes a number of chapters which describe in some detail Jesus Christ’s ministry among those people. It does not contradict or supplant anything in the Bible. Rather it complements and clarifies many of the doctrines to which the Bible alludes but is not entirely clear. Its purpose is literally to prove the Bible to be true, and, as stated on the title page of the book is “to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ.” Show more Show less

Are Mormons Christians?

Kathryn
When I was about five years old, a little neighbor boy who, was a friend of mine, went to church -- a non-LDS Christian church -- with his parents for the first time. When he got home, he came over to my house, told me where he’d been and informed me quite proudly that he was a Christian. “Oh,” I answered, “so am I.” “No, you’re not,” he said. “You’re a Mormon.” While I was unable to convince him otherwise, I knew, by the age of five, that one could be both a Mormon and a Christian – that the two were not mutually exclusive. I think I was a pretty typical five-year-old Mormon in that respect. Our church has borne the name of Jesus Christ for all of the 180 years it has existed. There has never been a time in our history when we did not consider ourselves to be Christians. There are always going to be people who define the word Christian in such narrow terms that we are excluded. That's unfortunate, and I believe it hurts our Savior to see anyone who loves and serves Him excluded from the Christian family. We would consider anyone a Christian who believes in and worships Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Redeemer of all mankind, and if he tries to pattern his life after the example Jesus Christ set during His ministry here on earth. According to that definition, the Latter-day Saints are Christians as are the Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, etc. Are some of our doctrines different from those of other Christian denominations? Absolutely. And are we gradually modifying them to be more similar to those of the Baptists or Presbyterians? Absolutely not. We have no desire whatsoever to be a part of what is generally considered to be “orthodox” Christianity because, in order to do so, we would be required to compromise our beliefs. In fact, we could not compromise our beliefs and still maintain our identify. It would simply be impossible. It is our sincere conviction that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior and Redeemer of the world. We worship Him and acknowledge that it is through Him and Him alone that we may return to the presence of God. Like Christians everywhere, we believe that Jesus Christ was born to a Virgin some two thousand years ago in a little Middle Eastern village called Bethlehem, that he grew to manhood, living a perfect, sinless life. We believe that He taught a Gospel of love and forgiveness, performed marvelous miracles and established a Church here on earth. He called twelve to serve with Him as Apostles and to spread His gospel throughout the world. He was betrayed by one of these men, tried and convicted of crimes He didn’t commit, tortured and crucified. And then, we believe, he was resurrected on the third day following His death, appearing to His friends and followers and promising them eternal life as well. He is our Savior and our exemplar in every respect, and if that isn’t sufficient to make us Christians, I don’t know what would be. Yes, we have some beliefs that are different from the beliefs of other Christians, but no two other denominations have exactly the same doctrines. Does that make one denomination Christian, and another not? As Joseph Smith learned at the age of fourteen, it is often impossible to settle doctrinal disputes using the Bible alone. That's why there are over 30,000 different Christian denominations in the world today. The one thing the Bible does do, though, is tell us what Jesus Christ himself had to say with regards to how people would be able to identify His followers. They would see that those who profess to love Jesus Christ also show love to one another. Show more Show less

Who chooses the Mormon prophet?

Kathryn
The short answer is, "God does." Here's how... We have a saying in our Church that God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. There weren’t “tryouts” for prophet back in Old Testament times, and nobody auditioned to be one of Jesus’ Apostles. God is perfectly and absolutely aware of who, among all His children, is worthy to speak on His behalf to the members of His Church. Some background… We believe that, in addition to Noah, Abraham, Moses and other Old Testament prophets, the Apostle Peter was also a prophet. If you will recall, Jesus told Peter it was His intention to give him “the keys to the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 16:19 In other words, as the senior Apostle, he was to lead the Church Christ established in His absence. He would be the prophet through whom the Lord would continue to lead His followers after His ascension into Heaven. As you know, the Catholic Church believes that its Pope can trace His right to the Papacy all the way back to Peter. We, of course, don’t believe that to be the case. We believe instead that the line of authority was broken from the very beginning, and that not even the first Pope was the individual God had in mind to succeed Peter. We believe that after Peter’s death, there were no more prophets on the earth for roughly 1800 years, even though the Bible tells us that Christ built His Church on a foundation of Prophets and Apostles. As you may or may not know, we believe that God the Father and Jesus Christ personally appeared to Joseph Smith in answer to his prayer to know which of all the competing churches he should join. We believe that He was later called by God to restore the ancient Church and to receive the keys that were taken from the earth with the death of Peter and the other Apostles. Today the Church is led by a quorum of twelve Apostles, each of whom can trace his authority to preside back to the ultimate Head of the Church – Jesus Christ. When an Apostle dies, the prophet, his two counselors, and the remaining eleven Apostles gather together in the temple, talk, pray and decide upon a new individual to take the place of the deceased member of the Quorum. Throughout the years, each Apostle ultimately either moves forward in seniority or dies first. When the Prophet dies, the keys of authority the same ones once held by Peter are passed first to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles collectively and then, once they have received spiritual confirmation that this is God’s will, to the senior member of the Quorum. He then becomes the new Prophet. God has already given His seal of approval to His new spokesperson. He essentially did that back when the Prophet was first called to the Apostleship. Show more Show less

What is Mormonism? OR What do Mormons believe?

Kathryn
First and foremost, Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God. He is our Savior and Redeemer. It is through Him and Him alone that we are promised that we may be reconciled to our Father in Heaven and stand blameless before Him. In that, we are like all other Christians in the world today. We do not, however, claim to be either Catholic or Protestant. Rather, we believe that our Church is the re-establishment of the original Church Jesus Christ founded during His ministry here on earth. This statement, of course, presupposes the absence of His Church in 1830, the year the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was founded. While we believe that a form of Christianity did exist at that time, we believe it was not a pure form. In other words, central to our doctrine is the belief that a Great Apostasy took place beginning in the years immediately following the deaths of the last apostles. During the Protestant Reformation, men like Martin Luther and John Calvin evidently believed that the Catholic Church had evolved over the years to something quite different from the Church Christ established. Consequently, they set about to “reform” it. Strange as it may seem, we believe they were actually inspired by God to do so. On the other hand, we do not believe that “reform” was sufficient. The priesthood, which we understand to be the power and authority given to man to act in God’s name had been taken from the earth and could only be re-established by God Himself. We believe He did this through a young man He personally chose. That man, of course, was Joseph Smith. We are also different from other Christians in our understanding of the nature of God. We believe, like other Christians, that the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are “one.” However, we do not believe that they are one in essence or substance, but one in will and purpose, one in power and glory and one in their love and concern for us. We believe the Godhead to consist of three distinct personages, the Father and the Son having perfected, glorified bodies of flesh and bones. In other words, we believe that, as the Bible states, we were created in their image. We believe the Holy Ghost, on the other hand, to be a personage of spirit only. We are different from other Christians in our belief that the Heavens are not closed. This means that we have an open canon. We don’t have any reason whatsoever to assume that God is through talking to us, that He has nothing more of importance to say. We believe He directs His Church today through a living Prophet. And we apply that term in exactly the same way we would apply it to the prophets of old – Moses, Abraham, and Isaiah, for instance. Under this Prophet, twelve men holding the title of Apostle direct the worldwide Church. In other words, our organization is also pattered after the organization of the primitive Church. We believe that a man and woman can be united throughout eternity and that the bonds of marriage need not automatically be dissolved at death. For this reason, we choose to be married in one of our Church’s temples there are over 100 now, worldwide, by someone who is in authority to officiate in this sacred ordinance. It is our belief that children born into such a union may, through their righteousness, be united with their parents in the eternities to come, and that family units are therefore everlasting. Finally, there are so many people who died without ever hearing of Jesus Christ – people who were simply born at the wrong time or in the wrong place. We don’t believe that they are lost forever, separated from God through no fault of their own. We believe that there is not one individual who has ever lived or who ever will live who will be denied the opportunity to hear and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many will do so as spirit beings, during the period after their deaths but prior to the time Christ returns to begin His millennial reign and to judge all mankind. Christ said that baptism is a necessary ordinance for our salvation. Because many of our own ancestors are among those who died without a correct understanding of His gospel, we stand as proxies for them and are baptized in their behalf. This is why we are so interested in identifying those within our own family lines who lived in times past. We want them to be a part of our eternal family, too. Obviously there are other differences between us – as well as a great many similarities. 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.

Kathryn
We believe that Jesus Christ established a Church as part of His ministry. He built it on a foundation of Prophets and Apostles, He being the "chief cornerstone." Paul speaks of the organization of this Church when he says, "And he gave some, apostles and some, prophets and some, evangelists and some, pastors and teachers For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive..." Ephesians 4:11-14 If I were to try to explain in modern English what Paul was saying, I would say this: And He (Jesus Christ) appointed apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. His purpose in doing so was to perfect His followers, to minister to them and to teach them. These were to remain in place until all of us are unified in the faith and in our knowledge of the Son of God, enabling us to grow to maturity in the Lord. Otherwise, we will continue to be like children in the gospel, persuaded first one way and then another, and unable to distinguish between true and false doctrines, being subject to the teachings of those who are crafty and who desire to deceive us. Since we have not yet become unified in our faith and knowledge of Christ and have not yet, as a body of believers, become spiritually mature, the need for prophets and apostles still exists. The Latter-day Saints assert that shortly after the deaths of the apostles, the Church, as a whole, fell into Apostasy. Our critics accuse us of believing that Christianity simply ceased to exist and that for nearly 1800 years, there were no true Christians on earth. This simply isn't what we believe at all. We have never said that one must believe exactly as we do in order to be a Christian. Many Christians mostly Protestants also insist that the Bible is complete and inerrant, and that we have already been told all that God wishes us to know. In the same breath, however, they will argue that the Holy Ghost continues to guide "the Church." The Latter-day Saints would ask, "Which Church?" There are over 30,000 different Christian denominations in the world today, each one claiming to be interpreting the "complete and inerrant" Bible correctly, but no two interpreting it in exactly the same way. One of my favorite pastimes is discussing Christian theology with non-LDS Christians on internet discussion forums. Over the years, I have discovered that it's really quite easy to prove pretty much any position you want to take on any given Christian doctrine. You just have to know which passages of scripture to use and which ones to avoid. Take the issue of whether salvation is by faith alone or by a combination of both faith and works. I can assure you that a case could be made for either position. But is that really what studying the scriptures is all about? Really understanding what God expects of us is so much more important than winning some debate. I've often thought how wonderful it is that God loves us enough that He gave us not only a book containing the writings of His ancient prophets and apostles, but living prophets and apostles to help us understand what they had to say. We don't need to take a position and then look for scripture to support it. We can listen to the words of His living servants and take comfort from the fact that He personally chose them to help us understand His word. One final thought: The vast majority of the revelations our prophets have received over the years starting with Joseph Smith's "First Vision" have been given in response to a question posed to the Lord. "What should we as a Church do about such and such?" "How do you want us to approach the problem of such and such?" If each and every Christian were to get the same answers, they'd all have to be asking the same questions. They'd have to be equally receptive to the responses they got, and equally honest with themselves if they didn't get the answers they wanted. Personal revelation is a wonderful thing, but it's personal. I can expect to be guided by the Spirit in terms of the choices I am faced with, but I need to rely on the prophets God has called to lead the Church as a whole. Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe about the nature of God?

Kathryn
Our first Article of Faith states: We believe in God the Eternal Father, and in His Son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost. We believe that Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh. While we believe that God is the Father of the spirits of each and every person who has ever lived, and that we are all His spirit offspring, Jesus Christ is most definitely in a class by Himself. He was with His Father in the beginning. Under His Father's direction, He created worlds without number. He was chosen to be "the Lamb" prior to the foundation of this world. He sits today on the right hand of His Father. Along with the Holy Ghost, the Father and the Son make up the Godhead. We believe that our Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ have a true father-son relationship. The words, "Father" and "Son," in other words, mean exactly what they say. They are not metaphorical or symbolic of a vague metaphysical relationship, in which two beings are some how both part of a single essence. We are each the physical sons and daughters of our mortal parents. Jesus Christ is the literal, physical Son of a divine Father and a mortal Mother. He was conceived in a miraculous way, but like all sons, was in the "express image of His Father's person." That is to say, He looked like Him. Dogs beget puppies, and cats beget kittens. God beget a Son who is the same species as He is. They both have bodies of flesh and bone although, until His birth in Bethlehem, Jesus Christ was a spirit being only. The Father and the Son are physically distinct from one another, and yet they are also "one." This doctrine is taught in the Book of Mormon as well as in the Bible. We just understand the word "one" to mean something other than physical substance or essence. We believe they are "one in will and purpose, one in mind and heart, and one in power and glory." It would be impossible to explain, or even to understand, the degree of their unity. It is perfect it is absolute. They think, feel and act as "one God." Because of this perfect unity, and because they share the title of "God," we think of them together in this way. It would be impossible for us to worship one of them without also worshipping the other. Most Christians also use the words “co-equal” and “co-eternal” to describe the relationship between the Father and the Son. We do not. We believe that, as is again the case with all fathers and sons, the Father existed prior to His Son. No son's existence precedes his father's, and Jesus Christ is no exception to this rule. We also believe Christ to be subordinate to His Father. He is divine because of His relationship with His Father. It is, however, important to understand what we mean when we use the word "subordinate." We understand even though the Son holds a subordinate position in the relationship, we do not believe Him to be an inferior being. As an example, a colonel holds an inferior position to a general, but is not an inferior being. To most people's way of thinking, an ant, however, is an inferior being to a human. The third member of the Godhead is the Holy Ghost. Unlike the Father and the Son, the Holy Ghost is a person of spirit only. It is by virtue of this quality that He is able to both fill the universe and dwell in our hearts. It is through the Holy Ghost that God communicates to mankind. We come to understand spiritual truths through the witnessing of the Holy Ghost, who communicates with us on a spiritual plane. It is through Him that we come to know the Father and the Son. 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?

Kathryn
Like our regular churches our regular meetinghouses, our temples are places where we go to learn and to worship. Unlike our regular churches, they are places where only those who have demonstrated their willingness to live their lives according to a particular standard of worthiness are allowed. In other words, you might think of a temple as sort of an “institute of higher learning” with respect to spiritual knowledge. It is in our temples that we make covenants with God, a covenant, of course, being a two-way promise or mutual agreement. Consequently, we believe that when we live up to the promises we make in the temple, God will in turn grant us certain blessings. We refer to this covenant-making ordinance as the Endowment. We believe that both the covenants and the blessing associated with them to be eternal in nature. Many of them serve to unite families not only for this life but for the next as well. Most people imagine that a temple looks much like a cathedral inside. After all, from the outside, there is a certain resemblance. In our temples, however, there is no one large room like the nave of a cathedral. Rather there are many rooms 170, I believe, in the Salt Lake Temple, each designed for a specific function. There are, for instance, fourteen rooms in the Salt Lake Temple that are used exclusively for marriages. We call them “sealing rooms” because we believe that marriages performed in our temples “seal” a couple and their posterity together forever. A Latter-day Saint temple wedding is beautiful. The couple kneels together and holds hands across a velvet and lace covered alter. When the individual officiating pronounces them husband and wife, he states that their marriage will endure “for time and all eternity” as opposed to “until death do you part.” On either side of the room there are large mirrors, directly across from one another. What do you see when you look in a mirror which reflects another mirror? You see an image which appears to go on forever. This is, of course, symbolic of the covenant we make in the temple when we marry there. Another important and unique function of our temples is to enable us to do vicarious work for those of our ancestors who have gone before us. This work would include baptism, the endowment and eternal marriage. Not all members of our Church have proven themselves worthy of the blessings the Temple offers. The fact that a person is a baptized member of the Church doesn’t mean that that individual is committed to living up to the required standard of obedience that entrance to the temple requires. All Latter-day Saints are encouraged to strive for that commitment and worthiness, however. I hold a current, valid Temple Recommend that entitles me to attend any of the Church’s more than 130 temples worldwide. Every two years, I need to renew this recommend. I do so by requesting a meeting with either my Bishop or one of his counselors. These three men are the leaders of an individual LDS Ward, or congregation – much like a parish. The person I meet with will ask me a series of questions. I’ve been asked these many, many times, so I ought to be able to remember most of them. They run pretty much along these lines: Do you believe in God, the Eternal Father, in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost? Do you have a firm testimony of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ? Do you sustain President Thomas S. Monson as Prophet, Seer and Revelator, and as the only individual holding the Keys of the Kingdom of God on the earth today? Do you pay a full tithing? (This would be 10% of our income.) Do you strive to attend your Church meetings? Are you morally clean? (To us this means no pre-marital or extra-marital sexual relations of any kind.) Do you live the Word of Wisdom? (This is our health code which prohibits alcohol, tobacco, stimulants and illegal drugs.) Are you honest in your dealings with your fellow men? Is there anything in your relationship with members of your family that is amiss? Do you affiliate with members of any apostate group? After I have been interviewed by a member of my Bishopric, I must meet with a member of my Stake Presidency. The Stake President and his counselors preside over about six to eight wards, making it roughly equivalent to a diocese. He asks me the same questions. If I am able to honestly answer them to the satisfaction of both of these men, I am given a Temple Recommend. I have to carry it with me whenever I go into the Temple, since I won’t get beyond the front door without it. We are encouraged to attend the temple as often as time permits. Of course, some members of the Church must travel long distances to attend the temple nearest them. Because my husband and I are fortunate enough to be able to live near several temples, we generally attend about once a month. Show more Show less

Who wrote the Book of Mormon?

Kathryn
The Book of Mormon: Was Joseph Smith the writer or translator? Joseph Smith claimed that he translated, by the power of God, an ancient record inscribed on thin metal plates. This ancient record, first published in 1830, became known as "The Book of Mormon." Many have accused Joseph of having merely "written" the book, as opposed to having translated the words of ancient American prophets. How plausible is this explanation? What follows is a hypothetical "want-ad" that I first saw a number of years ago. It helped me understand what a remarkable accomplishment the translation of the Book of Mormon really was. Imagine Joseph Smith reading this want-ad in the local Palmyra, New York newspaper back in 1829. Here's what that ad might have asked for: HELP WANTED – MALE Age: Twenty-three. Must be newly married. Must have a third-grade education and have a background primarily in farming. Applicant will be required to write a history about an ancient civilization. His narrative must exceed 500 pages in length with roughly 150 words per page. He must begin work immediately. The deadline for completion of this assignment will be ninety days from when he begins. Due to interruptions, he will actually have closer to sixty days in which to finish this book. He must use a vocabulary of not more than 3500 words and yet must introduce into the English language 180 new proper nouns. The chronological time frame for this history must be from about 2150 B.C. to 400 A.D. with most of it covering the period from 600 B.C. on. The portion of the narrative covering the last 1000 years may not contain any large, unaccounted for gaps of time. A number of interrelated local histories must be going on at once. He will not be able to travel to the place where this history is to have taken place or even have access to research material of any kind. He may dictate the book. Two scribes will be provided. One of them will lose the first 114 pages of the book and he will have to start over again from the beginning. Integrated into the history of two separate and distinct great nations must be accurate accounts their warfare, their religious beliefs, and their economic, social and political cultures and institutions. Cultural and technical details must be lavish and extensive. He must bring into the account a discussion of the pure and simple Gospel of Jesus Christ and the pattern of Christian living. His statements must not contradict the Bible but must instead strengthen accepted scripture. In this history, he must come forth with ideas and statements which are entirely inconsistent with prevailing beliefs in the world, but which will come into true light and focus within 150 years after his death. His statements and claims regarding cities, culture, architecture, building materials, tools, weapons, etc. must be verified when these things are unearthed by archeologists of the future. He must zero in on things he could not possibly have known anything about or have ever experienced in his lifetime – such things as ancient Semitic literary forms, a discussion of the Middle-Eastern olive culture, and an unbelievably accurate description of volcanic activity. Could you or anyone you have ever known have done this? The only thing more incredulous than the possibility of Joseph Smith having translated a divine record as he claimed to have done would be the possibility of his having written it himself! 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?

Kathryn
While it is true that I do not hold the priesthood and that my husband does, I do not find this in any way disturbing. I do find it interesting, however, that people outside of our Church are so bothered by it. First of all, you need to understand what it means to “hold the priesthood.” The priesthood is the authority given by God to mankind to act in His name. We who are believers recognize that if the Church is true, its policies are what they should be and what God would have them be. If the Church isn't true, its priesthood has virtually no power. What could possibly be gained by holding a priesthood that has no power? We believe that men and women in the Church are of equal value, but have different roles. I know that God values me every bit as highly as He does my husband. My husband has a vital role to play during our mortality here on earth, and so do I. As to why the Lord has chosen to define our roles as He has, I can't really say and I don’t really care. But I do believe the doctrine to be His and not just one devised by men. None of this means that LDS women are dominated by their priesthood-holding husbands or that we have no authority to act without their approval. You should know that we do, in fact, hold some pretty important positions in the Church. Women, as well as men, both pray and give talks (i.e. sermons) before congregations often of several hundred people, and both hold positions of leadership, not only on the ward i.e. congregation or stake i.e. diocese levels, but over the 14-million member Church as a whole. Women, along with men, speak to the entire Church membership, twice each year at General Conference. Women teach classes on advanced doctrinal issues, not only to other women, but to men as well. Like men, women are called on missions to teach the Gospel throughout the world. They hold jobs as professors and deans at Brigham Young University, one of the largest private universities in the United States. Quite honestly, as a Latter-day Saint woman, I have never felt like a “second-class citizen.” There has never been a time that I, as a member of the Church, have felt that my opinions, concerns and ideas have been valued less because I was a woman. Show more Show less

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

Kathryn
According to LDS doctrine, when the spirit leaves the body at death, it goes immediately to the Spirit World to await the resurrection, when it will be reunited with a new, perfected immortal body. The spirit is eternal and continues to be a cognizant entity, even when not inhabiting a physical body. The Spirit World is not the same place as either Heaven or Hell. It is a sort of an intermediate destination. Heaven for most or Hell for a tiny minority will come later. The Spirit World is said to be comprised of two parts (states of existence), actually, as opposed to literal places. First, there is Paradise. It is a wonderful place of peace and rest where the righteous regardless of religion will reside. Jesus told the repentant thief who hung next to Him on the cross that He would see him in Paradise on that very day, and yet when He appeared to Mary on Easter morning, He told her not to touch Him since He had not yet gone to His Father in Heaven. Clearly then, Heaven and Paradise are not one and the same. Second there is the Spirit Prison. This is where the wicked will remain until they are resurrected. Christ in spirit form was said to have visited the spirits in prison during the three day period when His body lay in the tomb. While He was there, He preached His gospel to those who had not had the opportunity to hear it during their lifetimes. Even though two thousand years have passed since Christ’s ministry, millions of other people have lived and died without hearing the good news of His atoning sacrifice. Others have heard the news, but for one reason or another, were just not ready to accept it. There is no scriptural basis for the common assumption among Christians that either Paradise or the Spirit Prison have since ceased to exist. There is every reason to believe that they continue to exist today as in the past. Besides, in Revelation, we are told that we will stand before God to be judged when Christ returns to Earth to begin His millennial reign. That would make no sense at all if we were already in Heaven and had been since the time of our death – unless, of course, we are to assume that God might want to change His mind after having us around awhile. Christ will not personally be in Paradise, as He is once again with His Father in Heaven. His presence will be felt, though, by those in Paradise and the work of spreading His gospel will continue among the spirits who are waiting there for the Millennium to begin. The righteous who did not know of His gospel while on earth will have the opportunity to hear it during this period of time – which may be hundreds or thousands of years, depending upon when they died. Those who heard it but did not accept it during their life will have yet another opportunity to do so. Each of us is a product of our culture and environment. We have each had different life experiences. In the Spirit World, many of the factors that influenced our decisions in this life will no longer cloud our vision. We will be able to see things more clearly than we were able to while here on Earth, encumbered by so much baggage. God will make sure all of us have a truly equal chance to recognize and accept the truth we are taught, even if it is not until after we die. With respect to those in the Spirit Prison, their wait will be considerably less pleasant. They will be fully aware of the misery they brought into the world. They will be wracked with guilt over their sins and will be tormented by the knowledge that they lived wicked and depraved lives. For them, the Spirit World will be hell-like. But it will not necessarily be a permanent state. The gospel of Jesus Christ will be taught to them too, spread by believers who are hopeful that they will respond to Christ’s gift of forgiveness. This is something they can still do at that time. God won’t close the door until they have been given every opportunity to repent of their sins and acknowledge that those sins can be forgiven as a result of His Son’s sacrifice. If they choose to sincerely repent, they too can be forgiven. This is not to say that they all will, but they will be given that opportunity. Eventually, “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ.” Whether that confession will be accompanied by remorse for one's sins and gratitude for His sacrifice will be the determining factor for what happens next. Eventually, everyone who has ever lived will stand before God to be judged and to be received into Heaven or condemned to Hell. As I’ve said on many, many occasions, we believe that the number of people condemned to Hell will be very few. Essentially, these people will be the ones who would prefer it that way. By far the largest majority of the billions of souls who have populated this earth over time will be welcomed into Heaven. The Latter-day Saints don’t see Heaven as a one-size-fits-all kind of place, though, nor do we believe the early Christians did. In 2 Corinthians 12:2, we read: “I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, whether in the body, I cannot tell or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth such an one caught up to the third heaven.” Here we have a very definite reference to the fact that there is more than one Heaven or that Heaven is made up of more than one part. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul discusses the afterlife. In verses 40-42, he alludes to the doctrine of multiple kingdoms within Heaven when he says: “There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead.” We believe not just based upon these two scriptures, but upon latter-day revelation that in addition to Hell there are at least three kingdoms or “Degrees of Glory” in Heaven. Joseph Smith and another early Latter-day Saint by the name of Sidney Rigdon were together when they were given visionary glimpse of what Heaven and Hell will be like. I’ll explain, as best I can, the circumstances that would lead to a person being sent to each of these places. I’ll start with Hell, or “Outer Darkness.” As I already explained, the Spirit Prison part of the Spirit World will be a form of Hell, but one from which it is possible to be released through repentance and acceptance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is also a permanent Hell, but the only individuals who will spend eternity there are those who have committed the unpardonable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. Neither the Bible nor the uniquely LDS scriptures have a great deal to say about this particular sin, but according to LDS doctrine, the only individuals who could conceivably blaspheme against the Holy Ghost are those to whom He (the Holy Ghost) has given a perfect knowledge of the Father and the Son. Since we believe that God the Father and Jesus Christ personally appeared to Joseph Smith and spoke to him, Joseph would have been in a position to commit this unforgivable sin. Of course, he didn’t, but because of the knowledge that he was given, he could have done. His situation is almost unique in the history of the world, but there are others – Peter, James and John, for instance, who were witness to Christ's Transfiguration – who could have denied what they knew with absolute certainty to be true. At any rate, those who commit the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost will be sent to Hell. All others will go to Heaven, to receive at least a portion of God’s glory. The lowest of the three heavenly kingdoms or degrees of glory is known as the Telestial Kingdom. It is the only one of the three to which Paul does not refer by name. He does, however, compare its glory to the glory of the stars. The Telestial Kingdom will be populated with the unrepentant sinners who, in spite of the fact that they did ultimately acknowledge Jesus to be the Christ, refused to accept His teachings or His atoning sacrifice on their behalf. They were too proud or too rebellious to care to commit themselves to Him in any way, and were willing to accept the consequences for their refusal. They will spend eternity as “servants of the Most High but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come…” Doctrine & Covenants 76:112. They will, however, feel the presence of the Holy Spirit throughout eternity and Joseph Smith said that even the glory of the Telestial Kingdom “surpasses all understanding.” The middle of the three kingdoms is known as the Terrestrial Kingdom. Those who will spend eternity here are the good people of the Earth who lived as righteously as they knew how with the degree of knowledge they had while alive, but who – when given the opportunity to accept the “fulness of the gospel” in the Spirit World – were simply not interested. These were not wicked people, but they had little desire to learn what God wanted them to learn or to search for truth. They were complacent and less committed to their Savior than they might have been. Paul compared the glory of this kingdom to that of the moon. As there is a significant difference between the glory of the stars and the glory of the moon, there will also be a significant difference between a eternity spent in the Telestial Kingdom and one spent in the Terrestrial Kingdom. The highest of the three kingdoms is known as the Celestial Kingdom, the kingdom where the glory is said to be like that of the sun. This glory far, far exceeds the glory of the other two kingdoms. This is the “Kingdom of God.” It is where God the Father is, and where His personal presence will be enjoyed forever. This kingdom is reserved for those who not only have a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ but who fully embrace that gospel and strive to live according to His example, obeying His commandments to the best of their abilities. Included among those who will inherit the Celestial Kingdom will be those who heard and accepted the gospel while in Paradise. Conceivably, even some who “served time” in the Spirit Prison could have sufficiently repented to eventually attain the Celestial Kingdom. The Celestial Kingdom and possibly the others -– we don’t know for sure -- is divided into three more kingdoms. Those who attain the highest degree of glory will receive the “Fulness of Salvation,” also referred to as “Exaltation.” For them, the potential for further progression is limitless. C.S. Lewis, obviously not LDS but the most frequently quoted non-LDS theologian by our Church leadership, had great insight into what exaltation is all about. Here’s what he said on the subject: “The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said in the Bible that we were “gods” and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him – for we can prevent Him, if we choose – He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly though, of course, on a smaller scale His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said." Show more Show less

Why do Mormons perform baptisms for the dead?

Kathryn
In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is recorded as having said that “he who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” The Savior was baptized Himself, even though He was completely free from sin. He said that He did so in order “to fulfill all righteousness.” For this reason, we believe that baptism is not only a necessary saving ordinance, but that it must be by immersion and it must be performed by someone to whom God has granted the authority to perform it. Many of our ancestors were, of course, baptized. In many cases, this may have been done by sprinkling, and even when done by immersion, it may not have been done by one holding the correct priesthood authority. Thus, we stand as proxy for each deceased relative we can identify and are baptized in his or her behalf. Now, in order for this to make any kind of sense at all, you need to understand our doctrine regarding what happens to the spirit when a person dies. We believe that, although the physical body dies, the spirit continues to live it does not go immediately to Heaven, but to the “Paradise” Christ spoke of while on the cross, the “Spirit World” He is said to have visited during the three days His body lay in the tomb. While in Paradise, this living, thinking, conscious spirit continues, not only to exist, but to learn and grow spiritually. Let’s say I was baptized in one of our temples on behalf of my eighth-great grandmother who lived several centuries ago as a Catholic. While in the Spirit World, she will be taught the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. She will be taught the same truths as are currently taught here on Earth by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Should she decide to accept as true those things which she is taught, she will have completed a very important first step. However, as a spirit being, she cannot be baptized, baptism being a necessary ordinance but one that must be performed on a physical body, which she no longer has. I have, however, been baptized for her, and that baptism is as valid in the eyes of God as it would have been had she been baptized herself during her lifetime. When at last Christ returns to the earth and each of us is resurrected, she, like you and I, will stand before God to be judged. She has not only accepted the Atonement of Christ, but has received the saving ordinance of baptism. Now, let’s say my grandmother doesn’t believe what she is taught in the Spirit World. She therefore rejects not only the doctrines of the restored gospel but the baptism I have done for her, as well. The result is as if that baptism had never taken place. A baptism done by proxy is, therefore, "a choice, a free-will offering to a non-Mormon ancestor whose consciousness as an individual continues in the next life." It's not an imposition, insult or posthumous conversion. Incidentally, we didn’t invent this doctrine. It is rather specifically mentioned in the New Testament, in a verse other Christians simply choose to ignore. Show more Show less

Why do Mormon missionaries proselyte?

Kathryn
The answer to that question revolves around our understanding of two important issues: doctrine and authority. According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, there are over 33,000 Christian denominations throughout the world today. Obviously, many of these must have no more than a few dozen members. Others have thousands or even millions of adherents. While most of them certainly have something in common with the others, no two of them teach identical doctrines. Therefore, it goes without saying that no two of them could possibly both teach fully correct doctrines. To many people, the differences between the doctrines of the various Christian denominations are immaterial, not worth worrying about. We don’t feel that way. To us, a 100% correct understanding of the nature of God, of our relationship to Him and what He expects of us is of the utmost importance. Another issue is that of authority. Again, many people find this to be unimportant. We believe it to be absolutely essential. We do not believe that God is now or, for that matter, ever has been indiscriminate in giving to mankind the power and authority to act in His name. We believe He is selective in whom He calls, and that one can neither buy that authority for a small fee over the internet or earn it through a divinity degree at an Ivy League school. While we believe that there is much that is good and much that is true in all, or at least most, churches, we believe that the truths taught by Jesus Christ and the God-given authority to act in His name rest solely with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I realize that this attitude may very well come across as egotistical or arrogant, but quite honestly, it’s not meant to be. As one of our Apostles said not too long ago, “Measure our beliefs against the things you believe – and the things you want to believe. Hold fast to all that you know to be true and add to that the fulness of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.” Show more Show less

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

Kathryn
Most people who choose to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do so after a period of prayerful study and contemplation. Obviously, we suggest that potential converts study the teachings contained in the Book of Mormon, but a cover-to-cover reading of the book is not a requirement. We do ask that they participate in a series of discussions with the missionaries so that they can understand the fundamental principles of the restored gospel. We also suggest that they attend our worship services to see what they are like. It is vitally important, in my opinion, that a person truly understands what it means to become a member of the Church and to understand the covenant he will be entering into at baptism -- before, rather than after, the fact. Coming to understand the gospel of Jesus Christ is, of course, a life-long process, but it is always a good idea for a person to be as prepared as possible to make the commitment that membership in the Church requires. I would suggest that anyone who is considering being baptized not be afraid to ask questions. The missionaries are, of course, a good source of information, as are knowledgable members of the Church. Once a person has studied and prayed about the truths found in the Book of Mormon and the doctrines presented as a part of the missionary discussions or at church services, he will be required to have a "baptismal interview," at which time the individual who is interviewing him will assess his understanding of the basic principles of the gospel and degree of commitment. Even once a person has a testimony of the gospel, it may be necessary that he wait a period of time before being baptized. For instance, one of the requirements for baptism is that a person be living the Word of Wisdom, the health code revealed to Joseph Smith. This health code prohibits us from using alcohol or tobacco and from drinking tea and coffee. We recognize how difficult an addiction to cigarettes, for instance, can be, and will do whatever we can to help someone who has this addiction to overcome it and be worthy to be baptized. Show more Show less

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

Kathryn
Yes, I really do! In Biblical times, God called prophets to lead His people. These righteous men were His spokesmen. God communicated His will to them, and they, in turn, communicated His will to the people who looked to them for guidance. Though the Bible never even implies that there would be no more prophets after the death of Jesus Christ, many people believe that this was to be the case. And for many years, it was. However, since 1830, when God restored the Church of Jesus Christ to the earth, there have again been men to whom this calling has been given. Joseph Smith was the first of them. Brigham Young was the second. Today i.e. August, 2010, God’s prophet is Thomas S. Monson. We believe that he is a prophet in exactly the same way as Moses, Abraham and Isaiah were prophets. Does he prophesy? Yes, when God tells him to. But a prophet is not just another word for “clairvoyant.” As the end of December approaches, you can always expect the National Enquirer to come out with an article containing the world’s psychics’ predictions for the coming year. Noticeably absent will be the words of the LDS Prophet. But, let me give you an example of the kind of thing a prophet of God might tell us. Back in 1833, Joseph Smith was given a revelation from God and was told to direct the members of the Church as to how they might best take care of their physical bodies. This directive is known to Latter-day Saints as the Word of Wisdom. It is a health code which prohibits alcohol, tobacco, coffee and tea and which calls for a diet high in fruits, vegetables and grains and low in meat. As I’m sure you know, the benefits of such a diet and the harmful effects of those substances we are told to avoid, were not known to anyone in 1833. As a matter of fact, as late as the 1940s, tobacco was actually considered to be beneficial to one’s health. Did Joseph Smith give this revelation in conjunction with a prediction that by the late 20th century, the medical community would come to essentially the same conclusions? No, he didn’t. But, in my opinion, it was still a prophesy. The President of the Church is considered by its members to be the mouthpiece of God Himself. When He speaks as a prophet, he speaks for God and is infallible. However, in addition to being a prophet, he is also a man, a human being with human perceptions and opinions. What he states as a man – and not as a prophet – is understood to be his opinion and not the word of God. He is expected to be a role model for all members of the Church. He is not, however, expected to be perfect. But then neither were any of the Biblical prophets. The only perfect man and therefore perfect role model was Jesus Christ. Show more Show less

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

Kathryn
If you were to walk down Main Street in Salt Lake City, Utah, where roughly 50% of the population are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you probably would not be able to tell which of the people you saw were LDS and which ones were not. If you were to spend some time with us, though, you might sooner or later notice a few things about us that set us apart from a lot of other people. We have been said to be a “peculiar people.” I think that’s what our late prophet, President Hinckley, was referring to when he said, in an interview several years ago with Mike Wallace, “We’re not weird!” I think he’s right; I don’t think we’re weird, but I suppose we are different. If you and I were to have breakfast together, you’d undoubtedly have a cup of coffee. I wouldn’t. I’d have a glass of orange juice. If we were to meet for dinner, you might order a cocktail before we ate and possibly smoke a cigarette afterwards; again, I wouldn’t. Believing, practicing members of the Church follow a health code known to us as “The Word of Wisdom.” That might sound like a funny name for a health code. But we believe it was given to Joseph Smith by revelation from God, over 170 years ago, as “a word of wisdom, for the benefit of… the Church”, or so the printed revelation states. It prohibits alcohol and tobacco in any form, coffee or tea and, of course, by logical extension, the use of illegal drugs. It stresses a diet high in fruits, vegetables and grains and one low in meat. Actually, it outlines a dietary lifestyle quite in line with what most doctors today would recommend. So, maybe “Word of Wisdom” isn’t such a funny name, after all. In the course of your conversation with members of our Church, you might notice that we not only do not use profanity, but that we never take the name of the Lord in vain. When we say “Jesus Christ,” we are speaking of the Savior, and are doing so with reverence and respect for Him. We never use His name as an expletive. Much along the same line, we try to avoid movies, music and reading material that contains profanity, vulgarity, nudity and violence. We believe in keeping the Sabbath Day holy – all 24 hours of it. We mow our lawns and wash our cars and do our grocery shopping on the other six days of the week. Similarly, you won’t find us on Sunday afternoons at the mall, at movies, restaurants, amusements parks or sporting events. So, what do we do on Sundays? Well, to begin with, we attend church services – for three hours. After church, those who are not involved in other meetings as many are, spend the day in quiet, reflective activities such as gospel study, reading, going for walks, and visiting extended family. In other words, we believe that Sunday really should be a day of rest and a day set aside for worship. You would probably notice that we tend to dress more modestly and conservatively than the general population. While this trend would probably be more noticeable with respect to women, it does apply to men, as well. Hopefully, this doesn’t mean that we dress unattractively or without regard for what’s fashionable. But, LDS women wear skirts that are knee-length or longer we don’t wear skin-tight sweaters, low-cut blouses, spaghetti straps or tank tops. You won’t see an LDS man, even in his own backyard, without a shirt. We are, of course, permitted to dress appropriately to participate in various sports, such as tennis and swimming, but even on the beach, you won’t see us in bikinis. Show more Show less

To what do you attribute the growth of the Church?

Kathryn
In my opinion, a very logical response would be that it obviously fills a need in people’s lives that is not being met by other religions. People are evidently searching for something they can really believe in. I think the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers something of real value to people who are dissatisfied with the teachings of other faiths. Our doctrines appeal to them. These doctrines answer questions that people have about God and about their relationship with Him. Our doctrines when understood correctly make sense, they feel right, they ring true. They are simple and straightforward, not steeped in mysticism or philosophy. There are few, if any, LDS doctrines which could be described as “mysteries.” We have answers for the questions people are asking. Consequently, people relate in a very positive way to what we teach and they want to make these beliefs a part of their lives. I think another factor is that ours is a religion that involves people. We don’t just go to church on Sundays, hear a sermon and call it good. Our religion permeates our lives. To begin with, we have a lay ministry and to one extent or another, everyone over the age of about 12 has a responsibility to help the organization function – not just on Sundays but throughout the week. People like that. They know they’re a genuinely necessary part of the group. Finally, I believe that our faith in our Church’s doctrines defines us in a very real sense. Our religion doesn’t just represent one little segment of our lives, the other segments being career, community service and political involvement, family activities, education and hobbies. It encompasses all of these things. It gives meaning and direction to virtually every aspect of our lives. Show more Show less