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Hi I'm Cary

I'm a Mormon.

About Me

I'm a recent PhD in African literature written in French. I grew up in Anglophone Western Canada, met and married a gorgeous Pittsburgher and now live in Western Pennsylvania with her, our son, our triplet girls and our newest arrival (poor big brother is now hopelessly outnumbered...)

Why I am a Mormon

If you stop with the knowledge that my parents raised me Mormon, you'll miss all the real reasons. It's actually because I wanted to break away from them and find out for myself what church, if any, I should belong to that I decided to do what it takes to find out. I very scientifically formulated a hypothesis, and designed an experiment. Of course it was a Spiritual experiment, with highly subjective and personal results, but a sincere desire to know, a belief that I could get an answer, and prayer in faith gave me an answer I cannot deny. I felt the whole list of pure feelings associated with the Spirit's products in Galatians 5:22-23. Now it's every bit as much of my knowledge as the rest of the more academically scientific and reasoned knowledge from my education is: Christ lives and is my Savior, His Church and authority is once again on the earth, we can all know it for ourselves by reading His word, the Book of Mormon in particular because it's true and its effect is to fix otherwise ambiguous interpretations of the Bible, which is also God's word.

How I live my faith

Mostly living with my family training, teaching young kids, helping to arm them with the tools they need to successfully navigate the constant barrage of materialism they get from the world around them. I work teaching French, and try to be an example of Christian living to my neighbors, co-workers, acquaintances, etc. Unpaid, I nonetheless serve in the leadership of my congregation's men's organization. I also try and sometimes fail to make monthly visits to a set of families I'm supposed to be responsible for as a sort of spiritual liaison. My whole family has also been blessed with musical talents and interests. We love to participate in the choir when we can. 

What is a ward/stake/branch?

Cary
These are all terms describing hierarchical administrative divisions within the Church. A ward used to be a common name for an urban sub-division. Many familiar with New Orleans, for example, will know that the 9th ward doesn't refer to a wing of a hospital, but rather to a whole neighborhood in the city. Nowadays, Mormons still use the designation to cover a local geographical area where a certain level of ecclesiastical authority applies; that of a Bishop. The higher hierarchical unit of the Church is the stake, which usually contains less than a dozen wards and is presided over by a Stake President, who reports directly to Church headquarters. In cases where stakes don't cover new geography, smaller local units of the church than a full-sized ward may exist, called branches. These operate like wards, but have a Branch President until numbers warrant ward-hood and a Bishop. They can sometimes report through the missionary structure of the Church (which covers larger geography than a stake and reports directly to Church headquarters), rather than through the stake structure. The preference in church governance is to local control in everything possible. I hope that's complete enough. Show more Show less

What is being a Mormon like?

Cary
Not sure I'm the best to answer this, since I've never been a member of any other church long enough to get a feel for what it's "like" to perfectly fit in there. Of course, I'm aware of how other churches run things, and I've studied a variety of doctrinal positions within Christianity, but what it's "like" is a better question for someone who's had to make a big switch, it seems to me. I guess, for me, it's like my local congregation is a sort of always there extra family, but large enough for most social needs, as well as just being there for each other. Wherever I move, in the world, it's also good to know I'll get the same feeling from my new home "ward". It's a place where I'm accepted, where I'm not expected to be perfect, but where everyone around me is trying to improve and is willing to help me improve too. Hope that gets at least some of the feeling.  Show more Show less

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

Cary
Yes. That's what the Book of Mormon says. I know He did, because I prayed to know if the Book of Mormon was true, and I got an answer I can't deny. If the Book of Mormon is what it claims to be, then this account of Christ visiting the America's has profound implications, and presents doctrine clarifying comparisons and contrasts with the Biblical account of His dealings with the Jews. On the american continent, He first came to a gathering of believers and He allowed them to touch the wounds in His hands and feet so they could know it was He of whom it had been prophesied would come. He taught them the Sermon on the Mount, and organized His Church with authorized representatives who were charged to handle things when He left again. He also performed miracles, and taught many other items of doctrine. A careful study of His dealings with these people had helped me draw closer to the Savior, and have a better understanding of His ways. Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe about family?

Cary
If the purpose of life is to be tested, then the manner by which we all enter the world is significant. It's the start of the test. And for some reason, God, who calls Himself a Father in Heaven, organized our entry into life so that we all begin with some form of family. The ideal family is one in which both parents are full Christian believers who can pass the advantages and benefits that come from living their principles and values down to their children. Of course families are rarely ideal, but that also is part of the test. And even if the family isn't ideal, there was at least a purpose to the organization into families learning as aspect of God's own behavior as Father. Also, families aren't meant to be done at death. God is going to make sure everyone gets a fair test. and part of the reward for those who deserve it, will be to be able to maintain family relationships throughout eternity. Judgment will be individual, but my wife and I have so much earthly joy together between us and with our children, that we want that for eternity, and have obtained that promise. So naturally, we try to make our family here as much like it can be in Heaven as possible, and we gladly teach our kids and try to live as Christ-like examples for them. Although not everyone, even within our own families, chooses to be saved by Christ, we trust that the Lord will provide every worthy person with the full blessings and joy of total family togetherness just like we expect to have ourselves. Show more Show less

What is the First Vision?

Cary
The First Vision refers to the apparition of Jesus Christ and His Father to Joseph Smith in the spring of 1820 in response to the 14-year-old's question as to which church to join. It is a seminal event in Mormon history, for numerous reasons, but primarily because it signaled the end of a long period of silence on the part of God. Show more Show less

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

Cary
The Holy Ghost has an influence on any person worthy of its presence. It can also influence unworthy people to guide them toward their first steps on the path to salvation. On the other hand, at some point before the Final Judgment, those of us without the Gift of the Holy Ghost will not be sanctified by its action, and purified to be able to be received by the Father into His Kingdom. The Gift of the Holy Ghost also offers its recipients not only the occasional influence, but the right of its companionship. Because it can be such a powerful guide, this gift constitutes one of the most precious God can offer us during this life. Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe is the purpose of life?

Cary
Deep question! But not really very complicated. The purpose of life is to learn to be like our Father in Heaven. It's a test to see if we will progress to become more like Him, or if we will choose not to develop His attributes. There's a few key differences between that God who calls Himself our Father: 1. He's got an immortal body (many Christians don't believe that, but their justification comes from a misreading of John 4:24--if you read the WHOLE verse, you can see that God is a spirit WITH a body, just the same way WE are); and 2. He's just a tad bit more perfect, more knowledgeable, and more powerful than we are. Of course we can't get all the way there in this lifetime, but having a test to see how well we do in a mortal body makes sense if He wants us to gain an immortal body like His one day. And if a spirit is an intelligence which requires a body in order to be able to act upon things, then it makes sense that the bringing together of body and spirit provides the conditions for a given spirit to be tested--to see what if it will choose right or wrong, good or evil. We will all sin and fall short of the glory of God, as Paul says, but there has been a Savior provided for us, who has Redeemed us not only from our repented sins, but also from death, so that one day--for those of us who choose it--an immortal body and perfect innocence are promised to us. In other words, those essential differences between us now and God can be erased and we can become like God in those essential ways. That is NOT to say that we will somehow be replacing God, but rather that we are promised that we will inherit His full glory under conditions of repentance and proper receipt of Christ's atoning blessings of forgiveness and resurrection. Show more Show less

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

Cary
Yes, and I think people who try to explain away the existence of and need for such a person are seriously misinterpreting their Scriptures. The Biblical pattern is clear God communicates his plan and the centrality of His Son's atonement in this plan to the people through prophets, or worthy men chosen and authorized to receive messages from God, and thus the world has an authorized voice for God despite the otherwise pervasive doctrinal confusion, even among believers. This is the Old AND New Testament pattern, with several examples of prophets in Acts. The pattern is repeated in the Book of Mormon as well. To be fair, Jesus is once cited as saying that John was the last prophet, but He obviously only meant "last" in the same way that February is "the last month" when you're speaking in March. It is perfectly consistent with the Bible to believe in a modern-day prophet, but it is also only fair to note that there are important Biblical injunctions to avoid false prophets. Thankfully, the key to discerning between the true and the false is also given in the Bible it is to test their fruits. I have done so, and tested the fruit of Joseph Smith, who claimed to be a prophet in the 1830s. He taught to do good, and to believe in Christ, as I would expect in any fruit of a true prophet of God. Because I tested this out for myself, I can also believe that the authority given to Joseph Smith was passed down in an unbroken chain until today in the person of Thomas S. Monson. Show more Show less

To what do you attribute the growth of the Church?

Cary
Numbers-wise, the growth of the Church is mostly due to two factors: 1. a higher than average birthrate; 2. a worldwide outreach of about 60,000 full-time proselyting missionaries who spend two years of voluntary service at their own expense where possible finding and meeting with individuals and helping them to find out for themselves how the Church and its doctrine can help them draw closer to Christ. The way this question is phrased points to another line of explanation, however. In this other sense, I attribute the root of the Church's growth to an outpouring of the Spirit of God upon the earth's inhabitants in a way never before seen in the history of humankind. There have been inspirations, and preparations traceable back through literally centuries to enable means of transportation and communication, and the political conditions available for more than ever of the inhabitants of the earth to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ as restored in this Church, and then to exercise their free choice in obedience to God's will in joining it. Show more Show less

What is the Church’s position on abortion?

Cary
Abortion must remain an option of last resort, never to be used for the convenience of the living, but only as life-saving efforts may require it. We understand the means by which children come into the world to be part of God's plan for us, and to those who abuse those means, there will be all the greater punishment added to their heads on the last day. Children are the most precious gift the Lord can offer mortals because He has promised us that they may become, no matter the circumstances of their conception, part of our eternal heritage and joy. We don't pretend to know at what point the spirit enters the body, and therefore becomes a living soul and not a mere tissue mass, but we cherish that potential life from its earliest signs and therefore consider abortion to be murder in principle. There may be special and extremely rare cases of rape or incest which require a decision between the Lord, the woman, and local Church leaders to determine if an abortion would jeopardize that woman's standing in the Church, never to punish the woman, but because of the seriousness of the act. Show more Show less

Why is authority to perform a baptism important?

Cary
If baptism is the gateway to Heaven, then the baptizer is a border agent. Would you want any old person who claims to know how it's done to just start letting whoever wants to into your country? Why do you insist they carry a badge and wear a uniform, and have an ID which proves they are legitimate representatives of the government? It's the same way with God's rituals. All over the scriptures, whenever there's a ritual performed it was performed by a duly authorized representative. Doesn't it just make sense that if something essential for our salvation would be required, that it should need to be done God's way, by God's authorized representatives? Acts 19:1-6 even shows a time when the authority of the baptizer was in doubt, and Paul re-did the baptisms for good measure. With all the confusion that comes from competing people claiming to speak for God, or claiming to know His will in this matter or that, I'm glad Mormons teach about authority. There's so much more clarity about who we should listen to, and who might be perfectly well-intentioned, but who really shouldn't be listened to because they're not authorized. Show more Show less

Why do Mormon missionaries proselyte?

Cary
Christ Himself, and the prophets He has revealed His will to in the years after His ascension into heaven, has commanded the members of His church to invite all others to come unto Him. The Church has organized, to fulfill this commandment, not only a missionary program where young single adults and/or retired couples can go forth among all nations, kindreds, tongues and peoples--always according to the laws of the land of their hosts--teaching the basics of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but has also asked all members to be willing to share their own testimonies related to all aspects of this Gospel at any time. We believe God wishes every human being to have the choice to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, and cannot condone any forcible conversion. Therefore, He expects all of us who have accepted Christ to become ambassadors for Him, and to encourage, persuade, teach, and invite by all non-coercive means until as many as will choose Him, do so. Show more Show less

How can we stop the spread and influence of pornography?

Cary
Pornography is the stimulus that tempts the eyes and mind to dwell on lustful subjects. As such, its only true antidote is for individuals to have the faith to variously flee, confront, or ignore the temptation as appropriate to the case in question. Mormons believe that the human body should be kept sacred, and that the procreation powers granted to us by God should also be kept sacred, to be enjoyed only between husband and wife. Pornography, therefore, consisting of a defilement of the human body, and a lustful and materialistic poisoning of the mind, must be opposed. Individuals standing up and speaking out publicly against it may help to reduce its sphere of public influence, and parents purchasing internet filtering software may help to reduce the danger of its influence in the home. However, it is ultimately hearts which refuse to yield to such temptations that will pose the only real solution to its spread. 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?

Cary
The Mormon Church puts a vast amount of stock and authority in keeping administrative decisions to as local a level as possible. Thus, help is most often organized on the ground, in the immediate, and with the locals. With this said, there are places around the world where there are no congregations of Mormons where we still want to help sometimes. In these cases, the Church as a larger unit maintains storehouses with basic supplies, and funds available for emergencies and humanitarian aid. The Red Cross routinely praises the LDS Church for being among the first on the scene at most disaster areas. Show more Show less

Who chooses the Mormon prophet?

Cary
God does. That's how it was throughout the Bible, and the Book of Mormon confirms the pattern. There's a process by which the authority is passed on when a prophet dies because God does not inspire confusion, but rather order. But it's still Him that's doing the picking. In short, the Prophet, as President of the Church, holds all "keys" of authority and is the only one who can exercise them. Once he dies, the quorum of 12 Apostles, which is a body equal in authority to that First Presidency, and who also hold the same keys but are just not authorized to exercise them, studies, prays, and holds a ceremonial vote (which has been unanimous every time since Brigham Young in the 1840s) to ratify the revelation they have each been given from God about who among them will be the next Prophet and First President. This process is not foreign to students of the Acts, because they know that Matthias was chosen as a new Apostle by a similar if not identical process. 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?

Cary
The scientific jury is still out on coffee and tea, but as far as alcohol, tobacco, or other recreational drugs are concerned there's hardly any debate anymore that these substances are harmful to the human body--and I'm confident that when the evidence is all in, coffee and tea will join them. However, this is NOT why the LDS people don't consume these things. We refrain because we believe that God has told us to stay away from them through a prophet. Joseph Smith received a revelation on the matter in the early 1830s (well before modern scientific proofs were available), which was subsequently refined and specified by a later prophet. Obeying God always comes with rewards, and Mormons everywhere enjoy longer and more healthy lives than average because of keeping this law, which includes dietary recommendations borne out in modern scientifically ratified food-pyramids: moderate intake of meats, high concentrations on grains and fruits and vegetables in season. Even when one of my family was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes, our family had very few changes to make to our overall diet to accommodate her. I attribute my general overall good health to this law. Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe about "eternal life?"

Cary
For Mormons, the phrase Eternal Life means the goal we all strive for, the final reward offered by God to the faithful, and is synonymous with the term Exaltation. It's a clever phrase incorporating one of the many Names or Descriptors of God Himself, which is Eternal to denote more than mere immortality. In this way, Eternal Life can be parsed as "life, as the Eternal one lives it". In Mormon doctrine, God will apply the highest reward He can to everyone that deserves. This requires assigning the human family to various degrees of glory, not just a single heaven or hell as much of the Christian world misconstrues from Scripture. This highest degree of glory allows for the power of permanent and everlasting growth, whereas all others have their limits. Those who achieve this highest glory will be required to live as God lives, and will have the power to grow and create even as God does. Now this is NOT to mean we will be somehow equals with God once we've received our final glory, those of us who have deserved it, but rather that we will inherit all that God has promised us, which is all that He has. The concept is similar to the idea of inheritance here on earth. A child can take over the family business, but will always look up to and revere the father, creator of the enterprise. This life of exaltation will be full of peace and free from need or want, but will provide opportunities for the kind of creation and fulfillment that true and full joy is made of. Show more Show less

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

Cary
Yes, but not simply because we wish it so. I love my family more than almost anything, but I believe that the links that bind us together come from both the love we share and from the authorities that have initiated and ratified our union as a unit in society, in God's kingdom. My own wife and I were married in a ceremony called a sealing in a special Temple consecrated specifically for the performance of rituals in which God's authority can bind/ratify familial relationships for durations beyond the authority of ordinary human or social powers. Because we were sealed together, and to our future children by God's authority, the only one we know to have power beyond mortality, we have faith that our wishes to be together after death will be honored as long as we can individually qualify by keeping the covenants of obedience to God that we make as conditions to such a blessing. Show more Show less

Who was Joseph Smith?

Cary
Joseph Smith is most often referred to as the prophet of the Restoration. We believe that God has a scriptural pattern of revealing His words and ways to authorized men called prophets. We also believe that the Bible foretells a long period of "apostasy" in which no authorized prophets would be available. This period came between the death of Christ's original Apostles and the early 1800s. Joseph Smith received the call to prepare himself to qualify for the position very early in life. He was given occasion to speak face to face with God the Father and Jesus Christ, several different angels, and received gifts of translation and countless message through the Spirit of God. His major contributions to the understanding of Christ and His role in God's Gospel plan for humankind include: 1. Translating ancient scripture originally revealed to prophets in the Americas in the centuries before about 400 AD; 2. Receiving the authority of the Priesthood, by which the commandment was received to restore and organize Christ's original Church on the earth; and 3. Receiving revelations as to the administration of the church including instructions on weekly Sabbath worship, Temple worship, a full-time proselyting missionary program, community service and civic roles, family duties, Church service duties, etc. There has been a clear and unbroken line of succession of Prophets on the earth since his time. 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?

Cary
The Book of Mormon BoM and the Bible teach the same doctrines, but the BoM IS different in method of compilation, transmission, and translation. The Bible and BoM are both composed of the word of God transmitted to prophets, but the Bible books were compiled by unidentifiable men, transmitted by unidentifiable means, and translations from manuscripts whose authenticity is certified by scholars from a variety of dead languages into English vary widely and disagree on substantive points. The BoM, on the other hand, was compiled by a prophet, transmitted from prophet to prophet, and translated by a prophet with the exception of just a few verses from the only manuscript in existence. Joseph Smith was the prophet of translation. He received the manuscript on engraved plates of gold which the last prophet had buried centuries earlier. By miraculous means, and by instruction from angelic messengers, Smith was able to locate, translate, and keep the plates secure. Mormons view the BoM as being a book of higher purity of translation, of transmission, and of collection than the Bible. But this does not mean that they consider the Bible to be any less the word of God. Rather, the whole purpose they see for the BoM is to provide a second witness, further establishing the truth which can be found in the Bible. In the passages where the Bible leaves great leeway of interpretation, the BoM is often the best resource Mormons use to disambiguate what God's intended doctrine is. Show more Show less

What does Mormonism teach regarding baptism?

Cary
Mormons believe that baptism by immersion administered only by duly appointed and authorized representatives of God is a requirement for all humankind for entry into the Kingdom of God. This is consistent with all scriptural teachings and examples. We believe that children should be taught right from wrong and wait for baptism until the age when they begin to become accountable for their own acts, which has been determined to be eight years old. Before that time, Christ's atonement covers the requirement for children as well as for all mentally handicapped who may never arrive at true accountability. But for the rest of us, baptism is an unavoidable condition of entry into the Kingdom of God, such that even those who have died without the chance to go through the ordinance, or ritual, itself, or who had it done, but not by one holding the correct authority, must also have it performed for them, by proxy. This is the reason Mormons volunteer to serve as proxies and perform baptisms by name for each individual in their family lines who they know have not yet received the ordinance in Temples. There is Biblical evidence that this kind of proxy baptism "for the dead" was a common practice taught by Church leaders, which can be found in Corinthians 15:29. Show more Show less

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

Cary
Mormons believe that the Holy Ghost is the 3rd member of what we call the Godhead, which is to distinguish the group of three individuals we believe in (God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son, and the Holy Ghost) from the idea of a Trinity being one person with 3 separate manifestations. We believe the Holy Ghost comforts, testifies of truth, speaks to the spirits inside each of us to direct us toward God, and toward the example of His Son Jesus Christ through feelings of peace, love, joy, and others (See Galatians 5:22). He is non-corporeal, which is to say that his influence is limited to non-material interventions. Show more Show less

What is faith?

Cary
Faith is a huge topic, rarely fully understood even by people who talk about it a lot. In the Mormon conception, it's a step of confidence between mere belief and full knowledge. It's perhaps best described by contrast with these two extremes on the continuum on which they all lie. First, faith is not that passive thing we call belief because it's a principle of action. So for someone to have faith, they have to be motivated to put a belief into practice, not merely be content with keeping it in their mind. For example, we believe that Christ is the Savior, but because we have faith we ACT as if this were true, and follow His example as best we can. In fact, "acting as if..." is a fairly good phrase to define faith. On the other hand, faith is not "perfect knowledge" either. There is enough of an element of uncertainty about the thing we have faith in, that it takes an effort of conscious decision-making to test our faith's hypothesis. If we had a full knowledge of a thing, that whole test, and the faith to find out if it's true, wouldn't be necessary. Atheists will argue that faith is mere belief (and baseless, at that), but what I have described for faith here leads to a more "scientific" approach that Atheists would like to admit is operable in the minds of the faithful. The proper response to a scriptural assertion, then, becomes not blind obedience, but rather careful thought, hypothesis forming, and testing. As tests come back proven or unproven, faith will grow in the right direction until it approaches "perfect knowledge". Show more Show less

In whom should we have faith?

Cary
That's another easy one. In Jesus Christ, and by extension, in His Father. People sometimes misunderstand the principle of faith, though. Some think it is some kind of irrational belief for which there is no evidence. Others think mere belief covers the meaning of the word faith. These are not what we mean when we talk about faith. Having faith in Christ does mean that the final and irrefutable proof is not yet available, but it means acting as if He is who He said He was: the Son of God and Savior of Humankind. It means worshiping Him, and trying to approach His example in every aspect of our lives. It's a belief, but it's one that motivates to action. It's not a "perfect knowledge", but it's not irrational, and it's not anti-scientific. Rather, if we can hypothesize that Christ is our Savior and led a perfect life as our Exemplar, then we can experiment upon such an idea and its implications. As positive evidence comes in from acting as if these things were true, our faith strengthens and approaches the perfect knowledge we may one day attain. Show more Show less

Are all Mormons required to serve a mission?

Cary
Well, all Mormons are required to be open to opportunities to share the Gospel's message of joy and peace and forgiveness through Christ at all times and in all places, but we're not all required to serve 2-year, full-time missions like those strapping young men with badges you may have seen. There is a missionary program that is considered a requirement for all men ages 19-26, and since there's a worthiness requirement, they are all expected to make sure they stay worthy or get worthy in time for a 2-year mission at their own expense. Women are also invited to serve an 18 month mission, but this is an encouragement, not an expectation as for the men. There is not a maximum age for women, but they cannot apply until they are 21 years old. Volunteers at later stages of life may also ask to serve, and many retirees offer to do so as soon as their work obligations are done. I have to say, for myself, a 2-year mission didn't seem like a requirement hardly at all. I'm glad I had the chance and rather consider it a privilege to have donated my time full-time to the Lord's service. It changed me and made me a better man. It gave me language skills, people skills, and study skills I can't imagine I could have acquired in any other way. But most importantly, the mission experience gave me the spiritual habits that have anchored me so strongly as a Christian. Most of my earthly blessings I can trace back to that period of my life.   Show more Show less

What are Mormon Temples used for?

Cary
Mormon Temples are houses of worship, meeting and instruction just like you might expect for cathedrals, chapels, or even synagogues and mosques. However, just like there was in New and Old Testament times, there is also a need for places of special purity and sacredness as settings for special covenants between God and His children, as the only places where certain authorities may be exercised. It is no secret that marriages for eternity, baptisms for the dead, and a ceremony called the Endowment are performed in the Temples. Each of these have been designated as ordinances, or covenant-making ceremonies, which require that extra level of sacredness. Not only are the authorities only allowed to be exercised for these ordinances in Temples, but even the participants must hold current Recommends to enter the Temple and participate in the ceremonies. A Recommend is a certificate that at least two local ecclesiastical leaders concur as to a given member's worthiness for Temple service. Show more Show less

What is the difference between attending church and the temple?

Cary
Just like in ancient times, there were more strict rules of entry into the Temple, and rituals done there had an extra element of sacredness to them, nowadays, anyone can attend a church service, but only members in good standing can hold "recommends" to enter the Temple and attend services there. Also, by contrast, church services include rituals where covenants are made between oneself and the Lord, concerning individual salvation. Temple rituals also include these, but add those that can be performed by proxy for deceased individuals, and may also concern familial salvation. Show more Show less

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

Cary
Yes, but not simply because we wish it so. I love my family more than almost anything, but I believe that the links that bind us together come from both the love we share and from the authorities that have initiated and ratified our union as a unit in society, in God's kingdom. My own wife and I were married in a ceremony called a sealing in a special Temple consecrated specifically for the performance of rituals in which God's authority can bind/ratify familial relationships for durations beyond the authority of ordinary human or social powers. Because we were sealed together, and to our future children by God's authority, the only one we know to have power beyond mortality, we have faith that our wishes to be together after death will be honored as long as we can individually qualify by keeping the covenants of obedience to God that we make as conditions to such a blessing.  Show more Show less

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

Cary
Faith in Christ changes how we behave toward each other. First, we accept our spouse and our friends as equals, of infinite worth, all bought by the same infinite ransom paid by Him. This produces respect for their being, and high expectations for their potential, which leads to patience and charity as a general attitude. Secondly, our faith in Christ means that we believe His doctrines, which include that families can form an eternal unit, and therefore, the inevitable problems of daily life seem to fade into insignificance, and spouses, each taking the long view of their common goals, have a tendency to let a lot of the lesser disagreements get in the way of their overall teamwork. Kids are born into environments where there is not only love, but an expectation that such love is meant to endure beyond this life, therefore parents tend to treat children with respect right from the start, and to teach them wise, long-term priorities very early so that each can individually qualify for the promised blessings of eternal togetherness. Attempting to follow Christ makes for people who understand that loving our neighbor as ourself, being willing to serve them and make sacrifices for them as He did, and therefore for very community-minded and engaged fellow-citizens and for good neighbors. We strive to improve everything we touch, as He did, and even though none of us is perfect as He was, our very efforts in the direction of improvement tend to produce positive results. Show more Show less

Do Mormons practice polygamy?

Cary
No, and anyone who tries is excommunicated immediately. The practice is Biblical, but was only ever commanded in very specific circumstances by very specific appointees of God. David had many wives married to him by Nathan the prophet, for example, and sinned when he tried to find one on his own. So if the question is DO we practice it, the answer is no, because the Lord has not authorized it through His prophet. And we have only practiced it in the past insofar as the Lord has ordered it through His prophet. Even during the period that the Lord commanded it (between 1840s and 1890s) it was very much uncommon (only about 2% of males participated). Interestingly, even among societies where polygamy is perfectly legal and is very much a cultural norm, such as some places in Western Africa, the Church stands so strongly on the principle that marriage should remain between one man and one woman, that otherwise converted individuals are disqualified from baptism and fellowship within the Church if they are legally married to more than one spouse. Show more Show less

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

Cary
Mormons believe that Christ is literally the Son of God in two specific senses. First, His physical body was sired by God via a miracle so that Jesus inherited from both His mortal and immortal parents. Secondly, the eternal spirit which animated that uniquely human-divine body was spirit-offspring of our Father in Heaven, and that His spirit had learned and grown to become so much like His Father's before this world was created, that He literally attained a co-equal status with the Father as a God. We believe that Christ's nature made Him powerful enough to command and oversee the creation of this earth under the direction of His Father, and then gave Him the unique ability to atone for our sins, voluntarily give up his mortal body on the cross, then re-occupy it and convert it somehow into an immortal and perfected body. We believe that He organized and leads His church in these days and that He will return in full glory one day soon to rule and reign in person. There is much that can and should be said about the Mormon beliefs about Christ, but these elements of His nature provide the heart of why we worship Him, why we perform good works in His name, pray in His name, and aspire to be like Him as much as possible. It should also be noted that we believe during His time in mortality, He is the only being who refused every temptation Satan could throw at Him, and the He therefore provided us with the only perfect example of how to navigate the test of life. Show more Show less

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

Cary
That depends on you and your reasons for inviting them in. They are generally very respectful of people's wishes because we believe that true conversion to Christ can never be forced upon anyone, and that God inspires each of us through His Spirit in different ways to prepare to come to Him. But in general, unless you've specified some reason for wanting a visit from them, they will begin by trying to get to know you a little, then by answering any questions you may have. After that, usually they try to find out what common beliefs you may have with them, and then build on them to talk about God, His Son Jesus Christ's role, prophets, the prophet Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, prayer, the Holy Ghost, periodic spans of time in the scriptures when no prophets are upon the earth (called apostasies), and maybe even baptism. The idea will be to introduce you to the most distinctive feature of our faith, which is the Book of Mormon, and then to invite you to read it and discover if it's truly God's Word for yourself. Once that stepping stone has been crossed, more teachings about modern-day prophets, our conception of the Plan of Salvation that God has for all His children, and about specific promises we must each make and specific practices we must each follow to become more like Heavenly Father can proceed. If at any point these promises and practices require a change in lifestyle or attitude, the missionaries will be there as friends to help people overcome their obstacles. For example, our code of health forbids smoking, so a smoker might decide s/he needs to stop smoking. With the friendship and contact and prayers of the missionaries, quitting cold-turkey can become a lot easier, especially when it's in view of becoming more Christ-like because the Spirit can accompany one's resolve. Show more Show less

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

Cary
That's easy. It started as an insult from outsiders. A bit like someone who doesn't like you giving you a mean nickname. And it stuck. The Book of Mormon is a book compiled by a prophet named Mormon who lived on the Americas around 400 AD. His civilization was falling around him, and so his last instructions to his son were to hide the book somewhere safe, because it contained a record of the dealings of God with his people there from 1000+ years before Mormon's time. Because it contained the dealings of God with this people, the doctrines contained in it speak of Christ, the need for a Savior, and the great plan of happiness Christ's atonement made possible. With these doctrines in its pages, it provides a complement to the Bible, and helps disambiguate passages in the Bible that different churches interpret differently. The book was discovered miraculously by Joseph Smith, who translated it by the power of God, and since the book bore the name of the prophet Mormon, the people who believed in it got called "Mormons". The sting has long since gone from the original insult, and now LDS members are usually quite proud to also call themselves "Mormons". Show more Show less

Why do Mormons believe in the Bible?

Cary
We believe int he Word of God. And to us, that means whenever God says something, it's important. Because of the pattern of revealing His will to His people evident in the Bible (God calls prophets who are authorized to receive revelations from Him for the Church), we are open to the idea that, if confirmed as coming from a prophet, all God's words should be part of the canon of scripture we study. For this reason, we read the Book of Mormon and other books of confirmed revelations as companions to the Bible. But because there are many contradictory doctrines fully justifiable by reasonable study of the Bible alone, we believe that especially the Book of Mormon as a companion volume to the Bible, provides information necessary to remove the ambiguity of some interpretations, and to therefore fix the correct doctrine that the Bible teaches. For example, the Bible teaches that baptism is a necessary step for salvation (although there are some who dispute even that), but various manners of baptism have solid evidence in the Bible. If one can agree that baptism should be performed the way God wants, not just any way man might wish to do it, then the various possible interpretations pose an unsolvable problem: which one is right? The Book of Mormon confirms that baptism is a saving doctrine, and also specifies and gives examples of the manner of baptism so that only one manner makes sense with both books. By itself the Book of Mormon answer on this and other doctrines would only be one testimony of the truth, and therefore just as open to misinterpretation and lead to a variety of practices also. For this reason we recognize that all scripture is given for the benefit of humankind, and are grateful to have the Bible available to us as well as other scriptures revealed in more modern times. Show more Show less

Do Mormons only help Mormons?

Cary
Well, I suppose just like you'd probably help your own immediate family before you'd help a stranger, there may be some priority given to other Church members, but in general, no, not really. We like to serve each other, but also our communities, our neighbors, and our fellow-beings in general. The Book of Mormon asks us to remember that we are all children of God, and that when we serve our brothers and sisters, church members or not, it's really God who we're serving anyway. This basic tenet manifests itself in a wide openness to come to the aid of anyone, without even asking the question of what religion they belong to. Show more Show less

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

Cary
Yes please, in fact I invite you to attend! We like visitors and want to make you feel comfortable with us. Don't be surprised if you get a dinner invitation on your first day! The services have always seemed uplifting to me, and they are usually broken down into 3 one-hour meetings 1. Sacrament - the entire congregation is gathered for hymns, prayers, talks, and general congregational business if need be. The talks are Christ-centered and assigned by invitation because there's no paid ministry. Once per month, is spontaneous "testimony" meeting with no talks assigned. The center of this meeting is a ritual passing of bread and water in a symbolic remembrance of Jesus Christ's sacrifice, and as a Covenant to obey Him, always remember Him, and take upon us His name. This meeting is a big part of why we call ourselves Christian. 2. Sunday School - groups break out by age. Lessons are Scripture-based in a lively discussion format, with the teacher more a moderator than an expert. 3. Priesthood/Relief Society - youth and adults now split up by gender for more Scripture-centered classes. The time between classes/meetings, and before and after the 3-hour block is always full of smiles, kind conversation, greetings, catching-up, and making plans for non-Sunday activities together. We generally have the feel of a big, fun family and are happy at the prospect of new brothers and sisters we even address each other as Brother or Sister most often. Show more Show less

What is the Relief Society?

Cary
It's the women's organization of the Church. It is led by local leaders and holds Sunday meetings an hour long which each adult female in the church should attend unless called elsewhere. 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?

Cary
Of all the gifts that omnipotent Being we call God has given us, our body is among the most important. Bodies are just a mortal shell for our spirits, but without the body, the spirit would have no capacity to act for itself in the material world. Because it is such an important gift, because our spirit's power to act is through a body, the better condition we keep our bodies in, the more of our potential for good we can reach. By the same token, treating our bodies as something less than sacred--neglecting their health, failing to keep them in good working order, abusing them with drugs or inappropriate clothing, even treating them like an art canvas instead of as a treasured gift--can diminish our capacity to become like our Father in Heaven, and can therefore be considered sinful in some degree. In another sense, the Spirit of God, God's way of communicating good thoughts and feelings, of prompting good actions, contacts our own spirits in the body they reside in. Therefore, whenever we feel to do something good, it is because our bodies have become a dwelling place in which God's own Spirit can at least temporarily reside. In that sense, just as the Temple is conceived of as God's House, our bodies can be a metaphorical sort of "house" for God too.  Show more Show less

Why do Mormons perform proxy baptisms in their temples?

Cary
The New Testament is full of direct and indirect evidence about the need for living people to be baptized as a sign of the acceptance of Christ into their lives. We Mormons happen to take it seriously when Jesus taught Nicodemus that "except a man be born of the water and of the spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." But there are many who, because of apostasy or the lack of necessary authority on the earth, or because of traditions or distance from said authorities, simply do not get a full and fair chance to hear and accept the Gospel of Christ during their lifetimes. Since spirit's don't have dunkable bodies, so to speak, Mormons perform proxy baptisms in behalf of these people after they've died. Done this way, under the correct authorities, the individual spirits involved, all of whom are equal potential inheritors of God's kingdom, the physical demands of a water baptism are met even if the deceased person didn't have the chance to do it in their lifetime. Now the baptisms are performed with faith in Christ as the Savior, and with the hope that He will save the dead as well as the living, but it is ultimately still up to the individual spirit, who, while unable to be immersed in water, is still quite able to decide what attitudes and doctrines to accept or reject, to receive the baptism, so that in the end salvation is still personal and remains a matter strictly between a soul and its God. Show more Show less

Why did your church previously practice plural marriage (polygamy)?

Cary
The short answer is because it was commanded by God through a prophet. There have been specific times and circumstances in Biblical history when God has given specifically authorized men (prophets) the commandment to marry a second wife to an already married man. In all cases, these were times and circumstances in which the number of worthy men was few, and the need for an expanding generation of future leaders was great. The records we have of how this practice was administered, both in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon, tell us that such a program was only ever intended as temporary and very short-lived, that only a very tiny minority of males would be considered worthy and up to the demands of the institution, and that any desires beyond the current marriages were considered sinful. David, for example, was given many wives by Nathan the prophet, but sinned when he looked beyond those and attempted to establish his own relationship with Bathsheba. Show more Show less

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

Cary
The Atonement refers to the period of spiritual and physical suffering Jesus Christ endured in the last 24 or so hours of His life. It includes suffering so great in the Garden of Gethsemane that he bled from every pore. It continued through humiliating kangaroo courts, tortures and derision at the hands of Roman soldiers, and ultimately death on the cross. Some people call it the "Passion", but I prefer Atonement, because the term puts the emphasis on the spiritual nature of the sacrifice, rather than the physical or emotional. To my mind, the Garden suffering was the difficult part, since Christ, at that point, somehow took upon Himself the sins of the world--all our pain, grief, infirmities, and weakness was put upon Him. Because He was mortal (inheriting the ability to die from His mother), and immortal (inheriting power over death from His Father) He was the only Human able to endure the sufferings. Because He was God made flesh, subject to all the temptations with which we are all assailed daily, and yet He rose above them and succumbed to none, He was the only perfect and spotless Being to ever have lived. These qualities made Him the sole candidate to take upon Him the vast an incalculable debt of sin the rest of imperfect humanity has incurred. Because He was sinless, and yet was sacrificed to pay the uttermost farthing of the impossible debt of sin for each of us, He now has the standing to offer us His own terms. His sacrifice, to follow the debt metaphor, bought our debts from the Father to whom they were owed. The law of justice is absolute, and would disallow any one of us from re-entering the Father's presence for the slightest of infractions, since the tiniest of stains can not exist in His pure presence. But since Christ's sacrifice paid the penalty in our behalf, Christ can now offer us the innocence we need for that ultimate goal of salvation and re-entry into the Father's kingdom. In a way, this means that the answer of why it was necessary is that we each inflicted an infinity of punishments upon Him that we couldn't have borne ourselves through our sins. I am infinitely grateful, that this infinite Being made that great and last infinite sacrifice so that I might have a chance I don't deserve. Incidentally, His Atonement was done at death, but that is not the end of the story. Since His spirit had all the powers of Godhood that His body inherited, it was also the only Being able to return to its body after death, which He did. His Atonement therefore broke the bonds of death for us all, so that one day we will all be resurrected as He is, to obtain an immortal body. That body will live forever in bliss or in torments depending on the judgment we incur at the last day. Show more Show less

How are the activities of the Mormon missionaries funded?

Cary
For the most part, Mormon missionaries pay for their own missions. In the cases where they can't, they are asked to ask their families first to support them, then their local congregation, and if there still isn't enough to cover the mission, contributions from the general Mission fund of the Church can be obtained. The Church has averaged the costs from around the world so that there is a single monthly cost in US dollars each missionary can pay no matter how cheap or expensive the actual living costs in the geographical area in which s/he is call to serve are. Show more Show less

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

Cary
Evidence is a funny thing. It's neutral fact by definition, but some people disqualify some of it outright because of their opinions. Me, I choose to believe there is a God FIRST. AFTER I've made that decision, I see almost everything providing evidence that unbelievers might reject. This is where most people, I think would go off about the cosmos and the wonderful complexity and order about it, or about the beauty and complexity of the earth and the balance of life it's teeming with. They would be right to do so, and I marvel at these things as well, taking them all as evidence for God. But I think it's also important to think about the history of human beings as well. The technological progress in the past hundred years alone may seem fully explainable without reference to spiritual causes and effects, but once you decide God has a hand in things, other reasonable cause-effect relationships can also seem powerfully explanatory. Also, families are evidence for God, in my opinion. Yeah, it's a social unit on par with a number of other animal organizations, but that doesn't explain the love that we feel, the purpose that we find in biological relationships, or the depth of their connection sometimes even despite cruelty. Finally, because I know myself so well, I'm quite confident that any talents or abilities I may have are God-given, and therefore evidence for His existence, since, by definition, anything good is a gift traceable to Him.  Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe happens after we die?

Cary
Mormons believe that our being is composed of an eternal spirit which provides the intelligence and the animation for a body. At death, the body remains on the earth while the spirit inhabits a realm called the Spirit World without its body. We believe that Christ has broken the bonds of death, such that at some point all of the human family will one day be resurrected, the spirit re-uniting with the body which will remain the same as it was on earth with the exception that the body will be corrected to a perfected state there will be no physical disabilities, and no bodily corruption and will remain from that time forward immortal. The Spirit World, then, provides the waiting place for that resurrection. At some point after the resurrection, however, there will be a Final Judgment at which God will assign every soul the maximum glory it can handle, given its merits. There will be many degrees of glory, roughly corresponding to three great "kingdoms" of glory, to which we will ascend. Those who will have accepted Christ by the correct authorities and endured to the end in faith of Him will receive the highest glory to live and grow in knowledge, power and glory for eternity in what we term "exaltation". Others may not be able to handle such an eternally expanding responsibility, as shown in their actions during their earthly test period. These, again, will inherit the most glory they can handle, but all others will at some point have their progress halted, ultimately differing sometimes as much as the brightness of a star differs from that of the moon, or the sun. there may be a few souls who became so evil that they merit no glory at all. These will be consigned to a place we call "outer darkness". But even during the waiting period BEFORE the final judgment, the Spirit World is divided into two great domains those who are expecting to receive a glorious reward abide in Paradise, and those who rejected Christ on the earth, or whose evil deeds have not yet been pardoned by Jesus Christ wait in a place of expectation of punishment, where there is spiritual anguish and suffering, called Spirit Prison. Show more Show less

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

Cary
Never. And they're extremely careful about that. This is not to say that the Church has no opinions or public statements about issues which some consider political. However, the counsel from Church headquarters is always very consistent members should individually pray over and support civic and political leaders which they feel best reflect their values, but the Church as a bloc will endorse no one. Show more Show less

Who are the Mormons?

Cary
Mormons are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The name started as an insult from critics, who thought calling members of this church by the name of the Book of Mormon which they believe is the word of God on par with the Holy Bible, would seem hurtful. It was quickly accepted and incorporated by this church's members as a positive nickname, and remains acceptable to this day. Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe concerning the doctrine of grace?

Cary
Mormons believe that we are saved by grace after all that we can do. This way of putting it fully acknowledges that no one is perfect, and that no one is able to perfect himself or herself. Christ alone lived the life of our perfect Exemplar, and He alone also made the perfect and infinite sacrifice, and therefore through no effort of our own can any of us claim to have "earned" salvation in the least degree. Since all of us have fallen short, it is accurate to say that only the grace of God can make us whole again and worthy of the Lord's presence and life in His kingdom. However, this way of putting it also avoids the pitfalls of belief that grace is the only ingredient in our salvation. The fact that Christ is the only one who can make up for our shortcomings does NOT excuse us from making those shortcomings as few as possible. God gave us freedom and intelligence, and expects us to use them correctly and in accordance with His laws. We are not excused by His grace, but rather inspired to do what we can, and then ask Him to cover the rest. We believe this attitude ultimately leads to increased faith and to good works, and although those good works will never be sufficient in and of themselves for salvation, not doing our best would disqualify us from the grace we need. Show more Show less

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

Cary
That's a pretty broad question! Well, for the most part, we're fun-loving, family-oriented, service-performing people. We like to be "anxiously engaged in a good cause", and don't mind if our beliefs make us "different" from the people around us or the world in general. We adore freedom, and therefore respect others' freedoms to do/believe whatever they want, but we will be happy to share our beliefs with anyone who wants to know. Mormons, of course, stay away from alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and even coffee and tea, but if you think that makes us dull, you'd be missing the big picture. On the other hand, since we are "big-picture" people, there's a lot of things that just don't seem high on the priority list to us, that others might find fun or engaging. We're honest and straight-laced, but know how to laugh at ourselves. We're concerned about our families, our church "family" and our communities an countries, and so many of us get involved on all those levels. We attend lots of church meetings and activities, it's true, but since it's a lay ministry, and everybody has to participate for no pay, it feels like a bunch of people who WANT to be there, rather than a weekly chore we all know we've got to perform. But we're also taught to be in the world, just not of the world, so we go to work, we have hobbies, we seek out entertainment and sports, and live our lives much like our neighbors, just with added perspectives that help us reach higher and think longer-term like, eternally in how we make our day-to-day choices. Show more Show less

What is the priesthood?

Cary
The Priesthood, in short, is the authority to act in God's name. It is the permission God grants to worthy men, to draw on His power in a limited scope to bless the lives of all of God's children. Of course, all use of this power comes to fruition only on two conditions 1. The Lord Himself wills the action to be completed 2. The faith of the blessers and blessees is sufficient to receive the action. Because some of God's blessings are reserved for members of His kingdom, there are certain rites of entry or promotion within that kingdom which can only be accomplished by His authorized servants in His authorized manner, hence the need for a Priesthood. And to those who may find it sexist for Mormons to ordain only men, I reply we didn't make the rules, and I'm not sure ultimately why women don't have the privilege, but since any privilege is also an extra responsibility, it shouldn't be hard to think of the Priesthood as perhaps being an extra hoop men have to jump through, so to speak, that women can achieve Celestial glory without. In any case, through the covenant of marriage, all worthy women are promised to receive all the blessings of the Priesthood through their association with their husband. Show more Show less

What is the Book of Mormon?

Cary
The Book of Mormon, in a nutshell, is the compilation of the writings of prophets who lived on the American continent. They kept records of God's dealings with people there, and even recorded a visit of the Resurrected Christ to the area. Because the doctrines and principles God asks people to live by are a constant, this record provides an amazingly useful point of comparison when dealing with the varied interpretations and conflicting doctrines and principles people derive from a study of the Bible alone. Because of the comparisons possible, the Book of Mormon resolves many questions Biblical study leaves unsatisfactorily solved. Show more Show less

Why do Mormons baptize their new members?

Cary
We believe that to be Christian means to emulate Christ's example and follow His commandments as closely as possible. It is undeniable that Christ Himself was baptized, and there was prophecy about this baptism before it occurred. To add even more weight to the biblical based examples, the Book of Mormon also exposes the doctrine behind baptism, it being a ritual entryway into the path leading to Eternal Life. Finally, since we believe that the same organization which existed in the Church of Christ's day exists now in the Mormon Church, we have prophets whose teachings we hold to as if from the Lord Himself, and modern-day prophets have confirmed that baptism is in fact a commandment to be obeyed. Show more Show less

What is a “testimony” that Mormons speak of?

Cary
Testimony refers to the memory you have of the beginning point of your conviction about some aspect of the Gospel, or the Gospel in its entirety. Mormons often talk about "having" a testimony, "gaining" a testimony, "growing" a testimony and "bearing" a testimony. The gaining is the important part. Mormons encourage each other to find out for themselves if things are true, so once you do that, you are considered to have a testimony that you can bear, or share, to others to strengthen theirs. Although the word is intended to cover any aspect of the Gospel, there are a few key things in particular that constitute a traditional Mormon testimony. The first and most important is that Jesus Christ is one's personal Savior and has paid the price for the sins of all mankind. Once this piece is in place, finding out if the Book of Mormon is true is usually the next step, first because there is a promise in its pages that confirmation will come via the Spirit of God through prayer about the book's veracity, and secondly because it's the logical linchpin on which hinges many other key doctrines. If the Book of Mormon is truly the word of God, then it both confirms the necessity of faith in Christ, but also fixes ambiguous biblical interpretations on which there is much disagreement in the wider Christian world. If the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith is also the prophet he claimed to have been, and received both revelations and authorities just as he claimed, so that the only true Church on the earth today is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is NOT to say that not a shred of truth exists in other Christian churches, but that ultimately the saving doctrines and authorities cannot be fully found in any other.  Show more Show less

Do Mormons worship Joseph Smith?

Cary
No, and they find it offensive when people suggest they might. Mormons worship Jesus Christ, the God of the Bible and of the Book of Mormon. We believe that the clear pattern in both of these books is that God chooses men to receive revelations from Him to disseminate to the world and to His people, organized in His Church as has been the case since His mortal ministry. These chosen men are called prophets, and they are NOT objects of adoration, but are honored as upstanding and worthy leaders. They hold positions of authority in God's Church, but at all times instruct church members on the true object of their worship Jesus Christ. Their entire job description centers on testifying of Christ and Christ's central and unavoidable role in the salvation of each individual. Joseph Smith was the first prophet in our modern times, and as such filled a gateway position in which many revelations came forth. Because of this, his name comes up frequently, and he is honored for his many and important contributions, but NEVER as any more than a righteous man, as we also honor Moses, Elijah, and Peter, for example. Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe about “eternal life?”

Cary
We believe that Eternal is one of the descriptive names of God, and that therefore the term Eternal Life has a double meaning. It means to live endlessly in glory, yes, which is separate from immortality, which simply means not being able to die, not necessarily living in glory but it also implies living the life He, the Eternal, lives. We believe that those married couples sealed in marriage by the proper Priesthood authority will have the blessing of living together in their family units depending on personal worthiness, of course the judgment is individual! forever, and inheriting the rights and privileges which our Father in Heaven has. Namely, to create, grow, expand in glory and influence forever. We don't pretend it will happen right away, and don't know how long it will take to warm up to this capacity, but we believe God's promise that we can inherit all that He has, so that means eventually creating our own worlds, producing spirit children who will have their own test in mortality one day, and perhaps inherit all we have too. Show more Show less

How can I know Mormonism is true?

Cary
This one's not rocket science. To know if something's true, you test it out. It's that simple. To make a sincere and informed test of Mormonism, it helps to look at it like the image of an archway with the Book of Mormon on top as the keystone. If it turns out to be false, the pillars of doctrines on either side crumble into illogic. But if it's true, the rest holds. Handily, there's a promise within the Book of Mormon itself that asks its readers to ponder over it, and to pray with faith in Christ, asking if it's true. The promise is that the Holy Spirit will confirm the truth of it to those sincere askers. If true, then the other claims Joseph Smith made about prophets in our times, about Priesthood authority being restored only to the LDS Church, and other principles also stick. Even after a childhood immersed in the Church, this is the path I also had to follow to know for myself. There's a lot of other sources you can check to try to get a variety of opinions on Mormonism, but extrapolating your own opinion from various points of view doesn't really get at truth, just an average of opinions. If it's truth from God as it claims to be, if you don't trust God to be able to give confirmation of its truth to you, you're not really faithful enough to accept the answer now, are you? So, to me, the best way is to test it the way it asks to be tested read, ponder, pray in faith. I got my confirmation, and it has been life-changing and life-improving in all aspects. Show more Show less

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

Cary
The short answer because we're all imperfect. A little longer there is going to be a judgment day in which we will all be tried for our actions and inactions on this earth according to the "light" of truth we received. Because we are all imperfect and have all fallen short of our own limitless potential, we would all be condemned to endless misery at this judgment day unless a way could be made for us to be forgiven of what we'd done wrong. To merely be in the presence of a perfect and flawless God would make us feel our own guilt so excruciatingly that our pains would be boundless if it weren't for a Being able to pay for those infinite and infinitely just punishments. Enter Jesus Christ perfect Exemplar, perfectly innocent, and inherently immortal from his Divine parentage. He was and is the only Being who could be sacrificed so as to pay the eternal debt for us all. His immortal nature won out over the grave, making resurrection for all our promise one day. But more importantly, His paying of all our debt now allows Himself to set the criteria for judgment without robbing the justice of God the Father. In the Son's mercy, He offers us forgiveness for our sins in exchange for our hearts to join with His in seeking the eternal blessing of all humankind. We need a Savior to be forgiven, to avoid the eternal weight of just punishments at the judgment day. Show more Show less

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

Cary
By baptism by immersion by someone who holds the authority to do so. There is a requirement of faith and repentance pre-baptism, so to educate people before they take the step of baptism, there is a series of lessons in the basics available and personalized by missionaries who can come to the homes of the prospective members. In the lessons, people will learn of the centrality of Jesus Christ, will become acquainted with the doctrinal underpinnings of His Gospel, and will be invited to make certain commitments for example, on chastity, tithing, abstaining from coffee, tea, tobacco and alcohol, and attending church services, for example with the Lord about keeping His commandments. If any help is required for the life-changes implicit in some of these commitments, the missionaries work closely with people to help them come unto Christ. Show more Show less

What is the Word of Wisdom that Mormons talk about?

Cary
God has always been interested in the health of His children, and also sometimes teaches obedience through dietary codes. The prophet Moses, for example, received kosher laws which were superseded later at Christ's coming. In like manner, Joseph Smith, who we believe was a prophet on the same order as Moses, received a revelation for all people to stay away from tobacco, alcohol, and hot drinks which was later defined by prophets and the common consent of the Church, to mean tea and coffee. Later prophets have received the revelation to stay away from recreational drugs as well. Included in the original revelation were also some counsels on how best to balance a diet lots of grains, fruits and veggies in season, go easy on the meat. We titled this health code "The Word of Wisdom" in the 1830s, and were happy as modern medical science has confirmed the wisdom of it in almost every particular jury's still out on coffee and tea, but even though the evidence is mixed and inconclusive so far, there's no doubt that evidence exists that they have negative effects. Show more Show less

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

Cary
There's two tiers of welfare services, as I see it 1. Centrally administered emergency relief efforts 2. Locally administered temporary support for needy families. We don't pass a plate in the Mormon Church, but we do have opaque envelopes people can use to donate money. Since there's no paid ministry, almost all of the offering money which is separate from tithing money, which is used for Church operations stays local. This means that when I give, I'm helping a family in my own congregation to get over a hump. Members are asked to exhaust their own resources, ask their family for resources, and only come to the Church to aid as a last resort. They are asked to maintain faithful voluntary Church service at all times, and must correspond with their leaders so everyone can be sure they're all working together to get the family back on track. And with all this support, the Lord's injunction to make sure there is no poor among us helps both the givers and the receiver to get back to independence. If age, illness, disability or other more permanent condition prevents full independence, help is even more freely offered and followed through with. Show more Show less

Why don’t Mormons have paid clergy?

Cary
Because the scriptures teach us that ministers, those called into Priesthood service and into authority positions should not be paid. Yes, there are people who draw a salary from the Church for services they provide, but never for ecclesiastical services. In this way, everyone is required to sacrifice for the service of everyone else's spiritual needs. And since everyone sacrifices, everyone's faith is all the more able to grow from the experiences gained in service. Imagine how much each member can grow by knowing they could be called on at any time to provide the sermon on Sunday. The very possibility of the calling provides good incentive to stay sharp in one's own scripture study, for example. Also, since there ARE leadership positions necessary within each congregation, the fact that no one is remunerated contributes to the humility of both leadership and those being led. No one can ever accuse another of seeking to profit from any position of spiritual influence. I think it's best that way--when you remove the material from the considerations, concentrating on the spiritual becomes all the more natural. Show more Show less

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

Cary
We consider it "fire insurance". The scriptures are quite clear that God's people are to be tithed, which means 10 by definition. We believe one should also give free will offerings beyond the 10, but that since God has given us 100 of everything, it's only fair that He should ask for us to give 10 back for the operating costs of His church. There's no paid ministry, so it all goes actual operations. Really though, we just do it because we know we qualify for blessings when we're obedient. And living on 90 is awesome anyway, because you force yourself to be that much more frugal, and your faith grows as you sacrifice in His service. Show more Show less

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

Cary
mormon.org has links all over to hotlines and browser-based chat features which can connect you with people who can send missionaries right to your door, most often with a free copy of the Book of Mormon and/or the Bible in hand. But if you'd like a less official route, by all means, find out where the local congregation holds its meetings. There's a locator on the mormon.org and lds.org websites. eStop by during worship services, or leave a message, so that members nearby can make their presence known. Show more Show less

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

Cary
I honestly don't know why self-reliance and emergency preparedness wouldn't be self-evidently important to everyone. For us, we believe that freedom comes with responsibilities. We have to use our freedoms correctly to maintain them. So that implies that we must plan ahead, be as ready as we can for any and all situations, even worst-case scenarios, so that we will be free to act, have the means to act, when rough times come. The alternative is to rely on others, to have fear instead of faith in the face of adversities. Of course, not everyone has the means or the health to be ready for anything, but if I can be self-reliant for me and my own family, then I'll have a surplus to donate to those who have need.  Show more Show less

Why is family so important to Mormons?

Cary
What's not to love about families? Mormons believe that family relationships are not just random accidents of biology, and that they had some basis in the existence of our spirits before they came to this earth, and can have an eternal continuation if the right conditions are met. Of course every family has its "black sheep", and there are many children living in single-parent families or even in un-loving families. But there is an ideal of a loving husband and wife, bound together by marital vows made with God and with each other, as the foundation for the rearing of children and for the fulfillment of adult development which is almost perfectly universal in its appeal as an ideal. We believe that God will hold accountable all those who abuse their privileges of procreation, and perhaps even more forcefully those who abuse the trust of their children and spouse. But as people ARE able to approach that loving ideal, following the teachings and example of Christ as their best guide, the benefits are clear people are happy and well adjusted, children learn, grow, and excel, and society deals with safe, law-abiding, and productive citizens because they are all steadily sacrificing time, talents and energy for the benefit of loved ones. And since this is the ideal, imagine now adding the dimension of a belief that such a loving family is intended to last beyond this lifetime. With this added eternal perspective, the challenges and sacrifices along the way become so much more trivial, so much less damaging. Finally, family is important to Mormons because it's the source of lasting joy--why else would an omnipotent God, whose work and glory is in the bringing of our spirits into worthiness to "inherit" all that He has, ask that we refer to Him as "Father"? Show more Show less

What is Mormonism? OR What do Mormons believe?

Cary
I'm going to try to be concise on this broad question. Mormonism is a Christian theology which can be distinguished from mainstream Christianity by the following beliefs 1. The canon of scripture was never intended to be closed, and is not closed today - revelation continues to be offered to humanity via prophets who receive messages from Christ. As a corollary of this belief, Mormons believe in bodies of scripture not available in the theologies of other Christians, notably the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price 2. There are 3 separate and distinct members of a Godhead, two of whom have perfected bodies of flesh and bone housing their spirits. God the Father is the Being we worship through His Son Jesus Christ as inspired by the Holy Ghost. 3. The spirits inside every living person had an existence as children of God the Father prior to earth-life in which they chose to follow Christ and implement the plan of His Father for us to have an experience in mortality which would test us to see how closely we could develop character resembling God's own, which would require us to live by faith, but which all of us would fail were it not for the offering of a sinless sacrifice Christ which would enable us to come back into God's presence to continue growing in God-like character and glory for eternity if we would accept Christ as our Savior in the way He prescribed, each successful recipient of Christ's blessing being rewarded with chances for growth according to his/her personal degree of merit, with no glory reward possible without Christ's grace. 4. Christ prescribes faith in Him, repentance of sins, and making sacred covenants with him such as immersion baptism by authorities, and a gift of the Holy Ghost in order to receive Him. Once received, life is still to live according to His commandments under punishment of losing salvation. Mormons are expected to continue to grow in righteousness, and continue making sacred covenants many only available, by His prescription, in Temples. 5. To compensate for the times when no prophets were available on the earth because of the lack of faith available among humankind, God's sense of justice and fairness has prepared a way for all his spirit children to have a chance to accept Christ in His prescribed manner. If a fair chance was not available during mortality, the eternal spirit has a waiting place prepared before resurrection time yes, we believe all will be resurrected before a final judgment in which the Gospel of Christ is taught. For this reason, Mormons believe in making covenants baptism and others in Temples by proxy for dead family members and others in case the spirit being proxied wishes to accept the covenant. 6. Mormons believe in a resurrection for all followed by a final judgment day and that each individual will be held responsible for his/her actions in mortality according to the degree of truth imparted to them during their mortal lives. Anyone who deserves any degree of glory will be rewarded for all the good they have done, but many will not find even this much of a reward, because only those who have fulfilled ALL of Christ's requirements will inherit a glory which will enable eternal growth and eventual similarity to God the Father Himself. Those who receive the highest rewards are those who not only accept Christ as their savior, but continue making covenants with Him, including an eternal marriage in which a husband and wife receive the promise of being able to maintain their marital status beyond the grave and into the eternities, complete with the posterity eventually involved conditioned upon their own individual judgments. For this reason, and because the family unit is conceived as the ordained means by which God's spirit children begin their tests in mortality, Mormons concentrate their efforts on strengthening family relationships and competencies in raising children righteously, and why we warn against the weakening of the family in the world. 7. Mormons believe in proselyting, but only by verbal persuasion, because we believe God will only accept the free will faith of His children. For this reason we respect the rights of all to worship how they see fit, and only invite them to worship the way WE believe God wishes. 8. We believe prophets have foretold end-times, and given signs for the scripturally literate to read. The culmination of these end-times will be the return in glory of Christ, who will reign personally over all the earth as a perfect just and perfectly beneficent monarch for a millennium. Before His second coming, however, there will be calamities, and a polarization of the forces of good and evil on the earth in preparation for an epic battle. Part of these prophecies include the building up of a city in Missouri called the New Jerusalem, from which Christ will reign. 9. Mormons believe that this life is the time to prepare to meet God and His judgment, therefore, we believe in striving each day to come ever closer to the perfect example of Christ, maintaining as close a personal relationship with Him as possible. For this reason, we believe in keeping the 10 commandments including Sabbath day observation on Sundays, the law of chastity--no sexual relations of any kind outside of marriage, and honesty in all dealings, among others, as well as the laws of God given by the prophets since then--notably refraining from tobacco, alcohol, coffee, tea, and drugs. 10. This should have gone earlier, but it's also important to note that Mormons believe that there was a large stretch of Apostasy absence of God's revelations, prophets, and authorities between the fall of Christ's first 12 Apostles and the 1830s. Because of the loss of authority which we believe is essential to ALL rites performed, and therefore all covenants made therein, since only an authorized representative of Christ may properly do things in His name and rightly expect that they will be recognized by Him at the last day, this authority had to be restored. We believe in miracles and the visitation of heavenly messengers, some of which brought keys of authority which they held John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John, for example to confer upon modern-day Church authorities Joseph Smith and others at the time, which could continue by laying on of hands in a continuous chain to this day. Mormons therefore believe they are the only church in which the authority to baptize and perform other covenant-making ordinances exists, making it the only true church of Christ, in their eyes. I think that covers the basics, but if there's other aspects, I expect this FAQ will get to most of them  Show more Show less

How does the Church finance its operations?

Cary
By closed-envelope free will offerings. We consider the principle of tithing to be a law, and all Mormons are expected to offer 10 of their annual increase a determination made by the members themselves and God, no one else! to the Church. This is where most operating costs come from. Mormons are also encouraged to be generous in making fast offerings generally once a month, which remain with the local congregation to care for the poor and needy there, unless there's a surplus which then gets forwarded on to other welfare cases. We have also organized several funds for Church-wide humanitarian efforts, for Missionary service proselyting missions mostly, and for an education fund benefiting students outside the US and Europe, among others. There may be some profits from Church owned corporations a few farms producing welfare program produce, a publishing house for Church materials, etc., but I think those are generally few and far between since the companies are run on a not-for-profit basis. Show more Show less

Why do some call Mormonism a cult?

Cary
I want to be charitable on this one, but I find it so hurtful when the word "cult" gets thrown around that I find it hard not to notice negative motivations behind it. Usually I think the people who say that do it for one of two reasons 1. They've been fed false information and use the label "cult" to excuse themselves from the honest curiosity it takes to find out for themselves what the truth is 2. They have a vested interest in trying to discredit the Church. The word cult, to me, implies a top-down conspiracy to exploit massive amounts of otherwise innocent and harmless ignorants for nefarious purposes, and conjures the image of a prototypical charlatan of immense charismatic power as the leader. Anyone acquainted with leaders of the Church would find such a description ludicrous. Charismatic maybe, but exploitative? How? To what end? It's just plain illogical based on the evidence of their behavior "By their fruits ye shall know them!". Since these implications about cults involve ignorant masses, this label is doubly hurtful. Anyone who has been to a Mormon Testimony meeting usually the first Sunday of every month, can tell you that we are very self-reflexive, and constantly hold the truths we know out for examination and confirmation. I suppose there are some Mormons who are there because that's their culture, but when the very root of the culture is to ask people to find out for themselves if the Church and its beliefs are true, the result is not likely to be the mass delusion of the kind cults operate, but is rather more likely to be solidarity among individuals convinced by their own experiments upon the Word. Mormons aren't saps with their leaders keeping secrets, as their fruits also show. I guess, in the end, people who call cult on the Mormons may not be aware of the essential definitions of a cult, so maybe I shouldn't come down so hard on this, but if they are going to label me, a polyglot with a literary PhD, as an ignoramus, I will be accept the insult and turn it around into a positive, because the only cult I belong to is the cult that worships Christ as we believe the scriptures ask us to. I cop to that easily. Show more Show less

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

Cary
We believe everyone will be resurrected before a judgment day in the future. So we believe there's a waiting space prepared for spirits to reside before that reuniting with the body--a sort of spiritual bullpen. Now, if you know pretty much what kind of judgment is coming your way, your state of waiting can be pretty peaceful or downright harrowing depending on how you lived. So this "Spirit World" is divided by a sort of pre-judgment. After the resurrection, we believe God will reward everyone He can according to the best they did and the most blessings they can handle. Sadly, this means not everyone's going to deserve the highest glories. Those who fulfill all His requirements will inherit all that He has, but there will still be glory available for people who lived a good life, but didn't accept Christ in mortality, for example. There are three general "degrees" of glory the Celestial kingdom best, sun-like in glory, the terrestrial kingdom good, but limiting, lower in glory like the moon is to the sun, and the telestial kingdom still unimaginably cool, but pales in comparison to the terrestrial like stars pale to the moon. On the other hand, people who have come out in open rebellion against God, even after having been given a full testimony of his goodness, will have to be removed from any degree of glory whatsoever. We call this place Outer Darkness. Show more Show less

Who wrote the Book of Mormon?

Cary
The Book of Mormon, like the Bible, is a compilation of the writings of many different individual authors. The compilation was mostly performed by a prophet named Mormon, which is why the book bears his name in particular, but his actual authorship is small and his work was mostly confined to editorial work compilation and commentary. The name of Joseph Smith is attached to the book because Joseph was the book's translator, but statements to the effect that Joseph Smith was the author of the writings in the book are either false or misinformed. 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?

Cary
There's a simple phrase we sometimes use to talk about what goes on in temples it's not secret, it's sacred. Anyone and everyone is invited to enter, and since there are standards of worthiness being a faithfully attending member, seeing to family and church duties, paying a full 10 tithe, staying clean of immoral behavior, and of drugs, tobacco and alcohol, among other things what that really means is that we invite everyone to bring themselves up to the minimum level of worthiness to meet the standard. These standards are not beyond the reach of any human being, but not everyone is ready just yet--even members of the church sometimes need time to get their lives in order. Now what actually goes on inside? There are rituals performed which involve making covenants with God, authorized by representatives of His Priesthood, prayer, Gospel instruction, and mostly quiet reverence. These rituals can be performed for the person attending as well as by proxy for the benefit of people who have passed away without having performed the rituals themselves. Every time a new temple is built, we make a big deal about opening it up to the public, so they can at least see the rooms and have explained to them what goes on there. After the temple is dedicated, though, it becomes, for us, the House of the Lord, and we must make certain only those recommended by their local authorities as worthy can enter, thereby ensuring that, in case the Lord ever did want to make an actual visit, the place would be ready for Him. Show more Show less

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

Cary
Mormons refer to their Church as Restored Christianity, rather than as a form of Protestantism. This is because we believe that in Christ's time, He organized a Church which over time lost the authority of the Priesthood, and doctrinally drifted from the Word of God, much as Protestants do. But we differ in that the only way to return to the prescribed doctrines, and practices as held in Christ's day is for Christ's representatives to restore their authority, and for modern-day prophets, apostles, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth be called to receive revelations in our contemporary times. From the early 1800s in the Eastern United States, we believe that Joseph Smith received revelations, tools, visions, authorities, and visitations which prepared him to be the instrument of restoring Christ's true Church upon the earth, which event occurred on the 6th of April 1830. The term Mormonism was invented much later, and describes the set of doctrines members of this Church subscribe to, given the name after the Book of Mormon which we respect as a body of scripture equal in importance to the Bible, which was an instant point of distinction between our Christian congregation and other denominations in existence at the time. Show more Show less

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

Cary
Mormons refer to their Church as Restored Christianity, rather than as a form of Protestantism. This is because we believe that in Christ's time, He organized a Church which over time lost the authority of the Priesthood, and doctrinally drifted from the Word of God, much as Protestants do. But we differ in that the only way to return to the prescribed doctrines, and practices as held in Christ's day is for Christ's representatives to restore their authority, and for modern-day prophets, apostles, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth be called to receive revelations in our contemporary times. From the early 1800s in the Eastern United States, we believe that Joseph Smith received revelations, tools, visions, authorities, and visitations which prepared him to be the instrument of restoring Christ's true Church upon the earth, which event occurred on the 6th of April 1830. So in the strictest sense, we believe that since it is Christ's Church, He is the one who founded it, and yet we understand when outsiders sometimes inaccurately credit the founding to Joseph Smith instead. The term Mormonism was invented much later, and describes the set of doctrines members of this Church subscribe to, given the name after the Book of Mormon which we respect as a body of scripture equal in importance to the Bible, which was an instant point of distinction between our Christian congregation and other denominations in existence at the time. Show more Show less

What is the Law of Chastity?

Cary
It's God's law about sexuality. We believe that God wants all sexual acts to be reserved for uniquely between man and wife. Outside of marriage, all individuals are expected to stay completely and totally celibate. 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?

Cary
To be honest, I’m not really sure why women don’t hold the priesthood, except to say that it’s always been that way in the Scriptures. I know that the love of God extends equally to all his children, male and female, and that all have the potential to obtain Celestial glory with Him, so I know that not holding the Priesthood is not a handicap to any woman to the obtaining of any blessing. Is there some structural reason God requires faith of us all, but a calling into holding His authority for only some of us? I wish I knew, because it must speak to something very profound about the nature of the soul, of creation itself, that God chose to divide us into male and female each with overlapping but different centers of talent, ability, capacity. In the Church, there is a doctrine of strict equality between the sexes, especially in marriage, and although the general guidelines for the ideal roles men and women are expected to play in the family, and in God’s Church, and plan of salvation are necessarily different, they are designed not to be hierarchical, but co-equal and complementary. For myself, since obtaining the Priesthood is a step required of all men to gain glories beyond the minimum in the Kingdom of Heaven, I personally view the responsibility to act as a representative for God under certain conditions, and to maintain the worthiness to qualify for His power in given situations to be rather an extra burden the Lord has placed upon men, which women don’t require for their own exaltation—an extra hoop to jump through, to put it in a crudely colloquial way. The phrase we often use is that women don’t hold the Priesthood, but obtain all the blessings of the Priesthood either through their husbands or through the action of other members of the Priesthood brotherhood. This is not to say that it requires men and only men to lead all the dealings of the Church, or even of any given family. As already mentioned, husbands are required to lead their families in strict equality of leadership with their wives. Furthermore, in the Church organization, women are expected to lead other women in the Relief Society, for example, just as the men lead the Quorums of the Priesthood. There are also women who are General Authorities, who supersede local authorities wherever they visit. But, from my very male perspective, I think this question assumes some things that could be corrected by asking the question in a different way. Instead of why DON’T women hold the Priesthood, maybe why DO men need it reveals more. Also when you understand that the kind of God-like leadership we are taught to aim toward removes all domination, removes all force, and leaves only patience, unfeigned love, gentle persuasion, etc.—in short that the leader should behave like a servant, as Christ Himself taught, then the effects of the “inequality” assumed in holding the Priesthood versus not, becomes much less an issue, much less about equality at all, and more about doing our best no matter what our job is called to be.  Show more Show less

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

Cary
Scripture study gives me knowledge of God's dealings with humankind in a variety of situations sinners, prophets, good examples, bad examples, etc. and of His doctrines and their applications so that the Spirit can bring them to my remembrance in times of need. It also helps me draw my heart and will closer to God's own, therefore helping me have the strength and courage to face daily temptations in the manner that my Exemplar, Jesus Christ, did, to the best of my ability. And from this knowledge, from this courage, this closeness to the Spirit which testifies of the Father and of the Son, I achieve some obedience to His commandments every day. As I obey, blessings arrive. I find I CAN withstand some onslaughts of the adversary. I find things go easier for me. I find obstacles removed to achieve my righteous desires. I find relationships with my loved ones, and even more distant acquaintances improve. I find I'm more tolerant, patient, focused, loving, kind, strong, mentally and physically fit--in short, I find I'm better than I was before more like Him. Show more Show less

What is done with the tithing that Mormons pay?

Cary
As I understand it, tithing funds are for the operating costs of the Church, whereas other donations can be used for a wider variety of good purposes. Tithing, for example, finances physical facilities construction and upkeep, Sunday School manuals, PR, Education, and the like. It's for anything that centrally addresses the 3 missions of the Church 1. Perfect the Saints improve the spiritual life of members, 2. Proclaim the Gospel improve the spiritual life of non-members, 3. Redeem the Dead insure the possibility of eternal spiritual health for those passed on. It should be noted, though, that in none of this is there payment for spiritual services rendered. Us Mormons have a completely lay ministry, and no tithing pays a single person for service in the Church as far as I'm aware. Show more Show less

Who is the Mormon prophet today?

Cary
Thomas S. Monson. He's 16th in an unbroken line of holders of the Priesthood keys to the office of First President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since Joseph Smith received those keys as restored by various heavenly visitors such as John the Baptist, Peter, James and John, Moses, Elijah, and others. This basically means he's the only person on earth currently authorized to receive revelations from God for the entire world. We honor him as a mortal and imperfect man called to provide a scripturally unavoidable function that of intermediary for God's messages to His children on earth. Pres. Monson mostly speaks by way of counsel, and usually restricts his messages to members of the Church over whom he has regulatory influence in spiritual matters, but he reserves the right to pronounce God's will at any time, on any subject, and to any audience. 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?

Cary
There has never been race or color restrictions on membership, and there are no such restrictions on Priesthood ordination now either. In the past there was, however, but the rationale has never been a matter of thinking some people inferior to others. We believe all men to be children of a single God, brothers of the same humanity, and potential inheritors of the same Salvation. Instead, it was a matter of having to follow rules we didn't understand. In biblical times, only male members of a single tribe within a single nation of people were allowed to hold the Priesthood for thousands of years. We Mormons have always understood that it's God who makes the rules, but we also understand that every male everywhere from every time will eventually have to have the chance to be ordained to the Priesthood, but that for some reason, in some periods, Priesthood membership was either restricted by lineage, or even altogether taken from the earth. Cain and his family, for example, and Ham and his posterity, for various reasons were shut out of the Priesthood by God's order. In the same way that not all people have the same challenges in this life, we believe God has allowed some people's test in this life to include not being able to have access to Priesthood ordination. However, we believe God is just and will allow for their ordination at some point before Final Judgment Day, thus making the playing field ultimately level, and the Final Judgment itself, completely fair. Show more Show less

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

Cary
We believe the Bible is the Word of God, and we are also honest in noting that the incredible variety of doctrinal positions available within Christianity all stem from that same belief. The problem does not come from the Bible itself but from the interpretations men put to it, otherwise only one Church would be necessary. We believe that after the time of the Apostles, a slow evolutionary process well, sometimes it went in leaps... took effect in which people began substituting their own understanding for doctrine, and their own manners and means for God's authority. We believe, as the Bible itself prophecies, that not long after the death of the original Apostles, the Biblical and European world fell into a great Apostasy, in which God withheld both his voice a living prophet/apostle and his authority the Priesthood. Although perfectly well intentioned, the climate into which Protestantism, the Reform, and various great revivals all attempted to make some corrective to the prevailing Church doctrines of the day. But without God's authority, which could not be assumed, but rather had to be Restored, no covenant, honest as the participants may have felt it to be, could be ratified by God Himself. The Bible is still the Word of God, and it's true doctrines, as illuminated by modern prophets, and recently revealed ancient Scriptures such as the Book of Mormon, as still necessary for Salvation. It took that Restoration to eliminate confusion on Salvation, however. Show more Show less

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

Cary
The Law of Chastity as we live it, requires us not to engage in sexual acts outside of marriage. Gay or straight this applies to everyone. So no matter what your sexual temptations may be hetero, bi, or homo, you are expected to hold them all at bay just like you're expected not to drink even if you're a natural alcoholic and you're expected not to beat your wife even if you've got violent tendencies. It's across the board and not discriminatory at all. We are freedom lovers and will allow anyone to live how they want, but our own members need to live by our code or renounce membership, depending on the infraction. I don't think that's out of line. On the other hand, when you understand that God's purpose in allowing His spirit children to gain earthly bodies via an appointed means of procreation, then you'll have a hint as to why we insist that marriage--the religious covenant with God by which a man and a woman promise to become one in purpose and in flesh in fulfilling God's plan of Salvation, which includes bringing children into a home where that plan is taught and followed--be allowed only between a man and a woman. No other union can accomplish this part of His plan, whereby we learn to emulate Him better, through parenthood, and He holds even heteros to a higher standard in their treatment of this power. Jesus specifically threatened those who offend the "little ones", which I think has to include abdication of parental responsibilities, with severe curses. Show more Show less

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

Cary
Mormons adhere to what we call the Law of Chastity, which is to say that there are no sexual relations permitted outside of marriage. But Christ demonstrated in his Sermon on the Mount that laws about actions don't go far enough we must strive not only for purity of deed, but also purity of word and thought. Deeds don't occur without thought anyway, so if you CAN succeed in keeping your heart and mind right before God, keeping his laws chastity and otherwise! becomes all the easier for you. So do the clothes make the man? Of course they don't say what's in his heart, but if his heart is right, he will choose appropriate clothing, no? Keeping modestly covered prevents your own, and possibly helps prevent other peoples' thoughts from becoming regrettable words or deeds. How can parents teach children? By example first, by direct teaching, and by follow-through tell them you trust them to keep a high standard in thought, word, and action on issues of modesty, show them it's okay to be different from the world in these standards, and help them if they stumble. Show more Show less

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

Cary
Mormons believe that God made men and women differently, and that even before they came to earth there were important differences in gender roles that made them complementary. He has specifically required that men become worthy to obtain the Priesthood, which is His authority, and for them to take the leadership role concerning the spiritual well-being of their families. But if you think for a second those differences and that added role means Mormon men think women are inferior, you couldn't be farther from the truth. The rules placed on that authority require the man to realize how useless his "power" is if he attempts to use it to coerce, if he forgets for a second that women are his equal, and are full inheritors of Salvation just as much as he is, even WITHOUT the requirement to hold the Priesthood. LDS women are generally fun-loving, high-achieving women, educated beyond the norm, and creative in applying their learning and wisdom to everything in its season child-rearing, professional work, as well as Church service and even leadership. They make awesome moms, caring neighbors, and active members of the local PTA. They organize soccer teams, bake sales, and sometimes even run for office. It's when the men realize how to tap into the awesomeness of their spouse as a full partner which LDS men mostly do! that they also realize how full their blessings are. Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe about the nature of God?

Cary
Mormons believe that the most salient fact about God's nature is that He has given us the term "Heavenly Father" to apply to Him. He's all-wise, all-powerful, and all-knowing. He's flawless. And He's our eternal "Dad". He wants us to know that our potential is to become like Him, to inherit all He has, and that therefore we are each brothers and sisters of infinite worth to Him, and to ourselves oh, if we only all understood that simple fact!. He is perfectly good, perfectly just, and perfectly merciful, because perfectly loving. It is His perfection that His Son, Jesus Christ, modeled for us while He was on the earth, and it is this model that we should all be working towards, as impossible as it may be in this lifetime to approach. Mormons also believe that the nature of God is that He is a spirit clothed in flesh like all of us are, but that His flesh is of an immortal nature such as is promised to all of us after the Resurrection. Thus, the purpose of this life is to gain a body like His, except with mortality built in so that the time between birth and death becomes a test period for us to prove to what degree we will take what talents, abilities, challenges, and temptations we're given and deal with them to become like Him, accepting the atonement of His Son to make up for where we fall short which we all do, inevitably. Show more Show less

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

Cary
Well, we don't kick anyone out of services for not being "up to code" unless they're clearly indecent, of course, if that's what you mean. Generally we want to show respect to God by dressing up a little for Sunday worship, so a dress, or skirt for the ladies, white shirts and ties for the men is the norm, but again, it's not a rule, just what most people do. As far as holiday customs go, we're pretty big into Christmas and Easter, and also make a little fuss about Father's day and Mother's day, but for the most part, whatever's locally celebrated, we get in on it in our own way. For example, we understand that Christ wasn't born anywhere near December, but we give gifts and set up a tree anyway. My own family likes to make a point to de-emphasize "Santa Clause" and try to make a Nativity Scene more central, but there's a wide variety of tacks Mormons take on that too. We do birthdays, and are very patriotic whatever country we belong to, so on national holidays you'll also find us celebrating with the best of the locals without drugs, drinking, or tobacco, though...of course. Show more Show less

Are Mormons Christians?

Cary
Absolutely! We believe Christ is the Son of God, the Redeemer of humankind, the Savior who alone atoned for all sin, and who we must all accept or be condemned to endless torment as punishment for those sins. He is the center and linchpin of the Father's plan for our Salvation and eternal happiness, and no one can return home to that Father in His kingdom of glory except through Christ. I know there are those who don't believe we're Christians. Almost invariably they tack on as part of their definition of being "Christian" that a person believe the Bible to be the sole, complete, and perfect Word of God. That's where they lose me. If the Bible itself teaches exactly what I mentioned I believe about Christ It does! I've studied it!, then I'm as Christian as I come, and the fact that I believe that God hasn't stopped speaking to prophets has nothing to do with my being Christian or not. p.s. The Bible itself also does not claim to be the complete, sole and perfect Word of God. Just sayin'. Show more Show less

How can we come to know our Father in Heaven?

Cary
Well, learning about Him and His dealings with humankind in the Scriptures is a good place to start. Also, prayer, or opening a direct line of communication to Him can also get you closer. But ultimately, it's only those who DO what He requires that get the blessing of coming to know Him better which is actually what you're doing when you pray and study scriptures. Worshiping with others of like mind can also help, but again, it's the doing that gets the actual closeness to happen. Show more Show less

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

Cary
Yes, and if we catch any flak, it's on the article of faith that says so, and then adds "as far as it is translated correctly". Let's be honest if God chooses mortal men as prophets via whom to communicate His will, and the centrality of His Son's sacrifice in the Salvation of all of us, then the Bible, as a collection of those messages, is unavoidably important to knowing how to please Him. But look at how many denominations are built on differing and sometimes conflicting interpretations of the Bible. You have to face facts the Bible suffers from passage through periods of apostasy--lack of available prophets--in which manuscripts were altered, transmission of documents rendered suspect, and translation manipulated to serve the doctrinal flavors of the translators. Mormons revere the Bible, and are also happy to have access to ancient scripture revealed in our modern times the Book of Mormon as well as a living prophet. Not because the message is any different, but because the channels of transmission of God's messages from the prophets to the people have been much more purely maintained, and because they can therefore clarify which Biblical interpretation is the correct one. 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.

Cary
I don't think that's true. The Bible mentions the first Apostles choosing new ones after the death of Judas, for example. I know some Christian denominations have interpreted Matthias as not being a full Apostle on the order of the others, because it serves their doctrinal logic that no authority is necessary other than an impossibly subjective definition of the "Spirit", but because we know the Book of Mormon to be true, we can use it to identify which alternate Biblical interpretations are correct. And I'm sorry, but authority is CLEARLY necessary for God to accept ANY sacrifice or covenant made with Him. If it's not done in His way, He simply can't honor it as valid. Apostles are part of the necessary structure of the Church as Paul delineated in Ephesians, so I have to stick with new Apostles can and must be called. Show more Show less

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

Cary
Mormons believe that the ideal is the traditional family roles husband should be primary breadwinner and full partner in domestic duties wife should be primary caregiver and full partner in leadership of the family. Of course individual situations may call for departures from this ideal, and it is never meant to be some straight-jacket set of rules. The Church offers counsel, and allows each family the right to decide how to implement those roles as they see fit. Of course, husbands should love and cherish their wives and vice versa, and if there are children, the love should flow freely all around, because that loving environment is what will best equip everyone to handle the temptations and challenges to growth that will inevitably come their way--that's also part of the role. Show more Show less

How can we increase our faith in Jesus Christ?

Cary
To me, faith implies you don't know something for sure, but are willing to believe as if it's true. To increase faith, then, a very scientific method of testing the object of the faith can be employed. Act as if it's true and if it is, the results of your experiment will support your hypothesis. If it's not true, then your test will reveal that conclusion from its results as well. So then the question is how do you act as if Christ is really who He says He is? You have to believe He can save you from sins enough to test it out. Sincerely, genuinely do what repentance you can for a sin, ask God for forgiveness in Christ's name, and see if the burden of guilt is removed from you. Keeping His commandments is another test you can make. Each time as you obey something, if a blessing comes back, you can be affirmed that your faith has put you on the track of something that really is true, that God really is the Rewarder of those who diligently seek to please Him. Show more Show less

Why do Mormons perform baptisms for the dead?

Cary
Mormons believe that we are all eternal spirits fleshed out into mortal bodies, but that one day we will all be resurrected and judged for the use of our freedoms during mortality. However, there have been periods and situations on this earth in which some individuals, or even centuries worth of people, were somehow not exposed to the same saving doctrines and authorities present in our day. To make sure judgment occurs on criteria fair and accessible to all, Mormons believe God has prepared a way for modern-day proxies to perform necessary rituals like baptism on behalf of deceased persons. We the living do it in the hope that the dead will accept our covenant made on their behalf, but we believe it's ultimately up to them to accept or reject the baptism. Show more Show less