What it means to be Mormon

This week's Newsweek cover

There is a Newsweek article this week all about the Mormons.  It seems we have been getting some interesting publicity lately, with  Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman throwing their hats into the political ring, and the hit musical on Broadway, The Book of Mormon.  And this Newsweek article was a very interesting read.

What I found most interesting was the following paragraph:

In recent weeks NEWSWEEK called every one of the 15 Mormons currently serving in the U.S. Congress to ask if they would be willing to discuss their faith; the only politicians who agreed to speak on the record were the four who represent districts with substantial Mormon populations. The rest were “private about their faith,” or “politicians first and Mormons second,” according to their spokespeople.

That phrase, “politicians first, Mormons second”, caught my eye.    Now, I am not Mormon second to anything.  That is who I am, that is what I believe.  My faith shapes everything about who I am.

This attitude toward faith and religion is something that we have tried to address recently in our Bishopric meetings and in our ward.  We are noticing that a lot of people treat their faith casually, they’ll show up to Church and other church activities when it’s convenient, but allow other things to take precedence over their worship.    We have been talking about commitment.

And isn’t that what this is this really all about?  We are not a social club, we are not an organization, we are not a church, but the Kingdom of God on earth, the power of salvation seeking to exalt all men and their families.  Religion has to have more influence on peoples’ lives because the effect of religion is eternal.  And that eternal perspective that Mormons have helps explain why we tend to take our faith a little more seriously than other religions.  We are not looking for a church to entertain us or where we feel comfortable during this life, we have found a religion that is eternal.  The truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ were true long before this world was formed and they will continue to be true long after this world has fulfilled the measure of its creation.

In one of our Bishopric meetings someone said something pretty profound: “Many are looking to find a church that fits their lifestyle, but really it should be the other way around.”  And that reminded me of a passage from the book Sophie’s World, by Jostien Gaarder, from the chapter on Søren Kierkegaard, “either Jesus rose on Easter Day — or he did not.  And if he really did rise from the dead, if he really died for our sake — then this is so overwhelming that it must permeate our entire life.”

That is what I feel, that is what I believe.  If we truly believe in Jesus Christ, if we truly understand what the gospel is and can be in our lives then it must change us.  It must change everything we do, everything we are.  The gospel is an invitation to “put off the natural man and become a saint” (Mosiah 3:19), it is an invitation to “deny  yourself all ungodliness” (Moroni 10:32), and if we deny ourselves all ungodliness, if we remove everything that is not godly from our selves, then we become godly.  We become as God is, we become perfect (Matthew 5:48).

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3 thoughts on “What it means to be Mormon

  1. I am not a morman. But I am a Christian. We are warned that in the last days men would have a form of religion but deny the power of it. If I have a mustang in my driveway and tell everyone I own a mustang. I’d be right. But if I told everyone I owned a mustang and know first hand how fast it can go, but never drive the mustang, I’d be a liar.

    Most people who think they are Christians never test out the wings of faith afforded by the power of the Holy Spirit (who is professed to live with anyone who calls themselves a Christian [a lie in itself]. They think they have the Lord by showing up and listening to a few words by someone who professes to know something true (at best).

    It’s amusing to watch the so called Church stammer around trying to figure out why the seats aren’t filled with people who do what they say they are. The problem is the leadership isn’t who they say they are. they are trying to secure a victory by their own strength. they draw on psychology and marketing skills to render health to a seething and bloody flesh. And there are quite a few “leaders” in Christianity who don’t even know the Lord personally.

    Humility, obedience, faith, and holiness are only found in the power of the Holy Spirit which is given by the Glory of God in Christ Jesus. You wont find such power to over come sin in any man made contraption.

    By His Grace.

  2. Brandon Smith

    Hey David, it’s been a long time.

    I agree with what you said, but I am not sure I agree with the angle at which it is written. People in political office were elected by presenting themselves in a certain way and making promises to their constituents. A Mormon being elected in a non-Mormon district probably did not tout their religion during the race, and I don’t think it would be fair to the people that elected them if decided to do this in office either. It is a matter of integrity and consistency.

    I agree with you that those of us that profess Christ as our savior have a certain joy/responsibitiy/privilege to live for the eternal things first and foremost. Who wouldn’t agree with that? We also need to be conscious that we have an inclusive religion where there is a process of becoming like Christ. I think the most healthy and honoring view to the Christian/Mormon faith I have heard is the centered set view, rather than a closed set. Meaning it is more important that people are pointed and moving towards Jesus rather than inside the “set” defined by religious people. This is not completely relevant to your post, but I thought it might add to the discussion.

    1. dteeps

      Good point. I do understand that a politician represents his constituency, despite any religious differences. I just understood that phrase as saying that being a politician was more important than being a Mormon, or whatever faith they would happen to be, and while I can understand a career being as important as one’s faith, for me, I don’t think a career ever becomes more important than my faith.
      But to be honest, were I ever to run for office, I do not think I would publicly answer questions about what Mormons believe. I would never deny that I am Mormon, and I would answer any questions about my positions on any policies, but I would refer questions about Mormonism to the official representatives of the Church.

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