Mormons Value Traditional Marriage

I deeply value traditional marriage and what this most fundamental union means, not only to the basic unit of society, the family, but to community at large.  I actually prefer the term 'natural' marriage, as I personally believe that marriage is ordained of God, the Creator of all, to be between a man and a woman.   It is through this type of union that children are brought into the world, naturally.   If we had to depend heavily on alternate ways of producing children to perpetuate society, outside of "natural" law -- the future of society would be quite bleak.

Historically, the more people society produces the more we have progressed as a people.  This is one reason that traditional marriage is in the states' best interests to protect and encourage.  Not only is this about a healthy population, but even more important, this has everything to do with maintaining a moral society.

From a Mormon perspective, the motivation for preserving traditional marriage is based in our belief that the family is eternal.  We believe that we lived in the family unit before we came to this earth -- thus our usage of the terms 'brother' and 'sister' when referring to fellow members of the Church.  We also see the entire human race as our brothers and sisters, with God as Father over all.  We believe that if we follow God's plan for creating families here, our families can be together in the next life and throughout eternity.  

For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, life has great purpose -- beyond our individual inclinations.  Therefore, we believe that every child of God is entitled to both a mother and a father.   There is no other way for a child to come into existence than through what one male and one female, together, can accomplish.  To deny this natural birthright is to deny the existence of a Creator.  

While many observers, outside of our faith, believe our desire to preserve traditional marriage is targeted at those who are living a homosexual lifestyle, this is incorrect.  However, the majority of Mormons do not support same-sex marriage -- as it is opposed to God's eternal plan for His children.  But certainly, it is not an anti-gay movement. 

Preserving traditional marriage has everything to do with maintaining a moral society.  The kind of society that supports and encourages marriage and family the way God intended.  Marriage is a sacred union, specifically for these reasons.

Prior to the same-sex marriage movement, people of faith had never had these moral values challenged in the way they are currently.  Less than a generation ago, mainstream society held these same values.   Children were raised that they, too, would grow up, get married and have children.  The natural assumption in this counsel was that they would marry someone of the opposite sex.

Today, as morality in society is on a rapid decline, to the point that many choose to ignore religious upbringing and even deny the existence of God -- it is becoming a greater challenge for parents to raise moral children.  When society sends the message that those things which God would not approve are approved by society at large, this undermines the ability for those who believe in God to teach His ways.

The push to legalize same-sex marriage continues to grow, as society continues to decline morally.  The normalization of homosexual relationships is at an all-time high.   The increasing pressure, by the liberal mainstream media, for the public to accept the homosexual lifestyle, has gone too far.  The message they are sending, is that in order to be considered tolerant of gays, society must redefine the definition of marriage.

It seems to me that society is being whipped from A to Z at lightening speed, without being given the chance to pause, and consider that there IS an in between!  

Sadly, polls continue to show that more people are falling for this distortion of what it means to be tolerant of the gay lifestyle.  Most have no problem loving and accepting someone who considers themselves gay.  However, we need to be careful that we don't allow ourselves to be manipulated into thinking that because we oppose a certain action or lifestyle, that this translate into a total lack of acceptance for someone -- even to the point of hate. 

The gay movement is actively using this strategy to convince society that tolerance for the gay lifestyle is a willingness to accept homosexuality as "natural" human behavior, thereby confirming that marriage for them is an "equal right"-- that they have been denied.   And if you are not tolerant on their terms, you are then considered to be a bigot and/or religious zealot.  There is no in between.  

This is clearly a false supposition.

Personally, I haven't bought into such nonsense.  I know who I am, how and why I believe -- and  most importantly, how I feel about my brothers and sisters who choose a homosexual lifestyle.   I have great compassion for those who struggle with same-sex attraction.  I am particularly inspired by those who are of my faith and have made the choice to remain active in the Mormon Church.  I know it can't be the easiest road, but I do believe it is the best choice.


Mormonism: Answers to Religion in America

The LDS Newsroom has just posted an inspired article entitled "Permanent Things: Toward an Understanding of Mormons".  Clearly this is in response to the many public inquiries and interest of Mormonism, prompted by our current popularity in the mainstream media -- referred to by some as our "Mormon Moment".

The article begins by explaining...

"Religion in America is in a state of flux. The 2008 American Religious Identification Survey shows that the number of those who claim no religious affiliation nearly doubled from 8.2 percent in 1990 to 15 percent in 2008.
In addition, Pew’s 2009 Faith in Flux survey found that “about half of American adults have changed religious affiliation at least once during their lives.” A study published in 2010 entitled American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us maintains that in America “it seems perfectly natural to refer to one’s religion as a ‘preference’ instead of as a fixed characteristic.”
In this shifting religious environment it is easy to talk of the fleeting and superficial rather than the deeper foundations of spiritual life. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints understand their message to be the full gospel of Jesus Christ, as set forth in the Bible and other scriptures. What transcendent ideals do they aspire to? How do their beliefs answer the needs of contemporary religious seekers concerned about the great, permanent questions of human life?"

I found these statistics quite interesting and can understand why this information could easily apply to our current opportunities to share the gospel.  I admit that I was surprised to hear that about half of adults (believers) have changed religions.  That is huge.  This definitely suggests that a large number of  adults are not happy with religion in their lives.   I think that should be encouraging as we discuss our beliefs with others, knowing that we might just have the missing piece to the puzzle for what they've been seeking.

I'll be the first to admit that it's very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day events that surround the media attention Mormons are receiving, as of late, and become distracted from sending out the messages that matters most.  Certainly I am guilty on occasion.

On the issue of how individuals define their religion as a "'preference' instead of as a fixed characteristic", is somewhat of a hot button and I think I'll save that for another post.  

The LDS Church, I believe, is suggesting that we try to avoid spending our time in discussions that are "fleeting" and/or "superficial" and focus more on teaching and talking about our foundational doctrines (although they did not use the term doctrines) and how these beliefs shape the spiritual lives of members.  I'm pretty confident that this includes the tendency of members who feel the need to debate or defend the Church in their online interactions.   I addressed that concern just recently HERE.

I appreciate past messages of counsel to not allow the media and those outside of our faith to define Mormonism.  I believe this is another way of sending that very same message.  In addition, this recent article actually suggests a few core principles that Mormons do embrace and that perhaps we might spend more of our time discussing with others.  I'll share each of these and also share the introductory paragraph.  Please see the entire article.

Identity:  We know ourselves by knowing God

"From the very beginning, human beings have sought to understand the meaning and source of their existence. “Know Thyself” has been a call to personal reflection since ancient times. But in this inward quest for self-knowledge, it is easy to get lost. Individuals cannot know themselves without knowing God, their Creator. Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of the Church, taught, “If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves.” The dignity and worth of mankind is grounded in its divine origin."

Community:  No man is an island unto himself 

"Throughout history, civilizations have aspired to build an ideal society. This collective effort has taken many forms, from tribe and township to kingdom and commonwealth. From the earliest days of the Church, Latter-day Saints have worked toward creating a community of fellowship and belonging where unique persons come together under a common obligation to God and each other. As human beings are social creatures by nature, so happiness best thrives in a social context. The nature of religious life is communal rather than solitary. Likewise, the Latter-day Saint social ethos is not cloistered, but interwoven in society. Mormons engage with and reach out to people around the world. “Friendship,” said Joseph Smith, “is one of the grand fundamental principles of ‘Mormonism.’”"

Eternity:  How we fit in the big picture 

"Measuring life beyond that small space between birth and death is a commonality among virtually all religions. Mormons view themselves as players in a grand historical drama that spans the stages of eternity. God’s great plan of happiness can be likened to a three-act play. In the premortal life of act one, God nurtures His spirit children, who freely learn the principles of truth and happiness, form individual identity and prepare for this mortal experience that they chose to undertake. Act two is the test of mortality on earth. Here God’s children, as embodied individuals, deepen their understanding, knowledge and experience by making choices, exercising faith and relying on the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Act three is the great expanse of life after death when, as one Church leader put it, “the mysteries are solved and everything is put right.” Hereafter, the never-ending course of experience moves onward."


Please see the entire article posted on the LDS Newsroom:

Permanent Things: Toward and Understanding of Mormons

Suggested articles included in post:

“Lightning Out of Heaven”: Joseph Smith and the Forging of Community
The Play and The Plan 
Crucial Test for Romney in Speech on His Religion

Reconciling the Prophet Joseph Smith

On June 27, 1844, the Mormon Prophet, Joseph Smith, and his brother, Hyrum, were martyred.  Enemies of the Church rallied together and formed an angry mob that violently broke into Carthage Jail -- where the Prophet and a few of his closest friends were being held, under the presumption of safety.   Mormons honor Joseph Smith for a legacy that goes beyond his willingness to die for the cause, but also for what he accomplished in the building up of the Kingdom of God -- during his relatively short life.

Mormons revere Joseph Smith as the Prophet of the Restoration of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.   Some unknowingly believe that Mormons worship Joseph Smith.  This is false.  As I was driving to Church yesterday, I found myself pondering over what I wanted to write about, in regard to Joseph Smith and his martyrdom. I couldn't help but consider this misunderstanding...

I can honestly say that I cannot ever remember, previously, a circumstance where Joseph Smith was on my mind as I entered the chapel on a Sunday.

When I attend services each week my thoughts are turned to God, who I do worship and His Son, who has made my Salvation possible.  I clearly understand that Joseph Smith was the instrument that God utilized to bring about His work.  I believe that for most Mormons, there is no confusion on this point.

However, while I believe that it's important to acknowledge that although Mormons do not worship Joseph Smith, most, are definitely amazed at his accomplishments as Prophet of the Restoration.   Beginning with the revelation that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are two separate and distinct individuals with bodies of flesh and bone, Joseph Smith continued to reveal eternal truths until the end of his mortal life.  Saving truths that change lives.

The coming forth of the Book of Mormon is, without a doubt, the most life changing substance that Joseph Smith revealed.  Within the content of this book lays a promise, which the intent thereof is to bring individuals, literally, to the knowledge of God.

My own and very personal testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith, is founded in this very promise -- which is that God will verify the truth of the Book of Mormon, brought forth by His Prophet, through the power of the Holy Ghost.   I recently shared that account HERE.

The current Prophet of the Mormon Church, Thomas S. Monsonhad this to say about Joseph Smith:

"The Father and the Son, Jesus Christ, had appeared to Joseph Smith. The morning of the dispensation of the fulness of times had come, dispelling the darkness of the long generations of spiritual night.
"Volumes have been written concerning the life and accomplishments of Joseph Smith, but for our purposes here today perhaps a highlight or two will suffice: He was visited by the angel Moroni. He translated, from the precious plates to which he was directed, the Book of Mormon, with its new witness of Christ to all the world. He was the instrument in the hands of the Lord through whom came mighty revelations pertaining to the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the course of his ministry he was visited by John the Baptist, Moses, Elijah, Peter, James, and John, that the Restoration of all things might be accomplished. He endured persecution; he suffered grievously, as did his followers. He trusted in God. He was true to his prophetic calling. He commenced a marvelous missionary effort to the entire world, which today brings light and truth to the souls of mankind. At length, Joseph Smith died the martyr's death." Ensign, April 1997

Some of you reading this are probably thinking...  'well, if she really knew all about that Joe Smith, she would never say such things'!  I can assure you, I have.  Or perhaps you think I'm simply naive?  Nope.  Really, I've heard and read it all.  Regardless, I cannot deny the answer that I received, from the Spirit, that the Book of Mormon is true.  If the Book of Mormon is true, I must then accept that Joseph Smith was called of God in these last days -- and that what he taught, as a Prophet of God, must not be taken lightly.

Gaining a testimony that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the vehicle by which God has authorized His Church to be administered, comes directly through the works of Joseph Smith.   And what a blessing it is for those who embrace that living prophets are here upon the earth today.

God honors His prophets and requires that we do the same.   Twice on Sunday I had the opportunity to sing a favorite Mormon hymn, "Praise to the Man",  found on page number 27 of the Church hymnal -- no coincidence I'm sure.  And of note, this hymn was written by W. W. Phelps.

 Praise to the Man 

Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah! Jesus anointed that Prophet and Seer. Blessed to open the last dispensation, Kings shall extol him, and nations revere. 
Hail to the Prophet, ascended to heaven! Traitors and tyrants now fight him in vain. Mingling with Gods, he can plan for his brethren; Death cannot conquer the hero again. (Chorus) 
Praise to his mem'ry, he died as a martyr; Honored and blest be his ever great name! Long shall his blood, which was shed by assassins, Plead unto heav'n while the earth lauds his fame.
Great is his glory and endless his priesthood. Ever and ever the keys he will hold. Faithful and true he will enter his kingdom, Crowned in the midst of the prophets of old.
Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven; Earth must atone for the blood of that man. Wake up the world for the conflict of justice. Millions shall know "Brother Joseph" again.

Yes, "Millions shall know "Brother Joseph" again"!  And they must.  It is my testimony that all who will eventually enter into the Kingdom of God will ultimately need to reconcile with this Latter-day Prophet of God -- whom He called to usher in the dispensation of the fullness of times.

"Praise to the Man" The Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith
Seth Adam Smith


Joseph Smith Jr. - Praise to the Man (post from 2009)

Incredible Last Dream of Mormon Prophet, Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet, had what some believe to be a prophetic dream only days prior to he and his brother, Hyrum Smith's, martyrdom, that was actually recorded by W. W. Phelps.  Very few people have ever heard of this incredible dream, prior to now. Thanks to the work of Seth Adam Smith, who you might be familiar with for his outstanding LDS videos, the account of Joseph Smith's Last Dream is now ready to be told in the most unique way...

"In the summer of 2007, while working for retired church history instructor and author Paul Thomas Smith, I came across this little-known dream of Joseph Smith. Few pieces of literature have ever touched my mind and soul as deeply as this has and I’ve longed to share this dream with others." ~ Seth

So touched by this dream was Seth, that once believed to be authentic, he decided to present this sacred account by doing what he does best -- produce a video.  But this wouldn't be just any video -- this project was special.  It took Seth nearly four years to bring the vision that he had in his mind to fruition.

First, he needed to have a visual that would depict what Joseph Smith described in his last dream.  So, he commissioned LDS artist, Jon McNaughton, to create a painting. (pictured above) He then approached actor and author,  Bruce Newbold, and invited him to do the narration for the video. And finally, he had to have exactly the right music to bring the spirit of this account to life, and so he approached Rob Gardner of Spire Music.  This work of art, will leave you breathless...

"After years of waiting, and months of work, here is “Joseph Smith’s Last Dream...”
Seth Adam Smith

On might immediately question the authenticity of such an account, and rightfully so.   Author and  church historian, Paul Thomas Smith, shares his thoughts in this video, about what he believes to be an authentic account. 

The Validity of Joseph Smith's Last Dream

To learn more about Seth Adam Smith's video, Joseph Smith's Last Dream, please visit Seth's Blog. He goes into the complete background of how he discovered this relatively unknown account, shares with you his feelings about what the interpretation of the dream probably means, (and does an excellent job at it, if I do say so myself) and goes into the research that explains why he believes that this dream actually occurred.

UPDATE: Since the release of this video, the authenticity of the dream has been challenged by Ardis H. Parshall, a historian of Mormonism, who writes on Keepapitchinin -- a history blog.  Seth has respectfully updated his blog by sharing some of her opinions and cautions.  He also requests that anyone interested in learning more please visit his updated blog post

I have also made some very slight changes to this post, at the request of Seth.  However, I respectfully choose to keep the majority intact, as I have no problem whatsoever with the way this dream was presented here on this blog.  I'm not a historian, so I can only go by the spirit that I felt in preparing this post. (although some would suggest that my feelings were simply emotional) It was good then, and remains so. 

In Seth's own words.... (which he has also updated and I share here)
So what does it all mean?  Is the account of "Josephs Smith's Last Dream" written by W. W. Phelps true?  Franky, I don't know.  Furthermore, it's simply beyond my ability (educationally and spiritually) to confiem to you that this dream is true. 
However, whether or not it's true shouldn't make much of a difference. In the end, my faith does not rest on the possible "Last Dream" of a Prophet, but on the reality of his First Vision. I do not know whether or not Joseph Smith prophetically saw himself and his brothers walking on the water, but I do know that he saw God and Jesus Christ in a grove now called sacred. 
So whether fact or fiction, "Joseph Smith's Last Dream" is a beautiful and symbolic story. For me, it represents a marvelous bookend to his mission as a Prophet. It symbolically tells the story of his martyrdom not as a horrifying tragedy but as a beautiful triumph. The story first came to me during a difficult time---when I felt as though I was treading through deep water---and it symbolically pointed me back to the Savior. As I exercised more faith in Him, I found that I was soon "able to walk upon the water." 
My intent in creating the video, was to share this beautiful story with you, and hopefully inspire you (on your troubled waters) to seek out the Savior.
The first time I read it, I wept.

I had the privilege of viewing this video, prior to its release, to offer objective feedback.  I too, was brought to tears when I heard this account for the first time.  I knew this would be something special for members of the LDS Church, who love dearly these men who so bravely gave their lives for the Kingdom of God.  

Today marks the anniversary of Joseph's prophetic dream, June 23, 1844 --  On June 27, 1844, Joseph Smith, Prophet of the Restoration, was martyred.  By his side was his beloved and ever faithful brother, Hyrum Smith.  One month later, his brother Samuel, mentioned in the dream, died of unknown cause.

Said Gordon B. Hinckley, 15th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, concerning the prophet, Joseph Smith...

"How great indeed is our debt to [Joseph Smith]. . . . It was he who brought us a true knowledge of God, the Eternal Father, and His Risen Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. . . . He brought us the marvelous Book of Mormon as another witness for the living reality of the Son of God. . . . Through him were restored the keys of the holy temples, that men and women might enter into eternal covenants with God and that the great work for the dead might be accomplished to open the way for eternal blessings." ~Ensign, Dec, 1997


My Testimony of the Book of Mormon


The Book of Mormon and Me

With all the attention that the Book of Mormon has been receiving as of late (well, not really...  more like the Book of Mormon musical) I wanted to take a minute and share my personal feelings about the actual book.  See, I figure there must be some people out there who have actually seen the play or heard about it, and now might be somewhat curious about the real Book of Mormon and how we as members of the Mormon Church consider it a vital part of our religion.

I've pondered a bit on how to explain my feelings about the Book of Mormon to people who have perhaps only heard of it and know nothing about its origins, content or purpose.  I've decided to share with you instead, how this book changed my life.  I'll be happy to  link you over to some of the other information about the Book of Mormon -- but only I can share my own personal experience of having read and embraced what members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints consider holy scripture.

I should tell you that Mormons believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God, as we do the Holy Bible.  We see no conflict in these records, as they both testify of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, that He is our personal Savior and Redeemer.   One does not replace the other.  For me personally, I enjoy studying these two books side-by-side.  Together they are a powerful witness of the birth, life, ministry, mission, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I'll begin by sharing a little bit about me...  Although my mother was raised a member of the LDS Church, I was not.  However, I was baptized into the Church when I was 10-years-old, but our family rarely ever attended Church.  I was exposed to the teachings of Mormonism mainly through other family members and my hit and miss association with the Church.  I credit my grandmother and one particular aunt for their religious influence in my early years.  Because of their teachings, I knew what the Spirit felt like -- although I didn't realize what it was at the time.  In some interesting way, although I rarely attended, I felt that I belonged to the Mormon Church.

I was still 17 when I graduated from high school.  During this time the Mormon missionaries had found our family when they were out walking the streets.  My mother started going back to Church and my step-father was converted.   In fact, most of the family started attending the LDS Church -- everyone living in the house, except for me.  By this point in my life I was looking to be independent, live my own life, doing what I wanted -- finally, and ready to move into my adult life.

But something kept nagging at me, not to ignore the Mormon Church.  Like I said, growing up I felt like I belonged somehow.  Mormonism was a part of me and I realized that I needed to reconcile the feelings that were stirring inside of me.  I made an abrupt decision to go to Church one Sunday, which shocked my entire family.  I'll confess, that prior to this I had been quite rebellious about going churchy!    My heart was softening.  It felt good to go into the Church and feel the love of the Mormon people.  Seriously, these are the nicest people!

I had a decision to make.  If the Mormon Church was really true, I had to change my life and commit to live the teachings of Mormonism.  For a cute 17-year-old-girl, this was a serious life change at a very critical time in my life -- or so it felt.  I knew about the Book of Mormon, but I had never read even a page of it.  I became aware of the promise that is given by God to those who would read it and sincerely inquire if it were true.  The promise is that the Holy Ghost will testify to you that it is true, if you will read it and pray to know.

At night, before I went to bed, I began reading the Book of Mormon.  I did't understand everything that I read, but I couldn't deny that I was feeling something.  One afternoon I decided to gather my courage, get down on my knees and ask God if the Book of Mormon was really true?  I knew that if I received an answer in the affirmative, that this also meant that Joseph Smith -- who produced the book, had to be a true prophet of God.  Honestly, I didn't know what to expect, but something inside of me urged me to continue...

To this day I have never forgotten, nor can I explain, exactly what happened to me when I knelt to offer up that prayer.  But I can tell you this, a sensation of light began at the top of my head and radiated throughout my entire body.  I had a feeling as if I were filled with warmth and light.  This manifestation remained with me as the thoughts in my mind confirmed with certainty that the Book of Mormon was true.  I'm not sure how much time passed before I was able to rise from my knees and acknowledge that something life changing had just happened to me.

I felt no fear.  On the contrary, I was completely peaceful and felt as if I had known this all my life.  From that moment forward it was simple to accept everything I was learning about Mormonism.  I looked forward to following living prophets and living my life the way I knew God wanted me to.  No longer did I feel that keeping the commandments was going to be difficult.

For the first time in my life,  I knew without a doubt that I had a loving Heavenly Father that heard my prayers and loved me in a way that I had never previously understood.  I began to learn more about the purpose of life.  Being a child of divorce, having my family torn apart and not having much of a relationship with my father, this was very comforting for me.  I became determined to make the kind of choices that would bring the happiness that I so desired for my future.

As I continued to attend Church, read the Book of Mormon and continue my study of Mormonism, I knew that my life had taken a dramatic turn -- and definitely for the better.  That was 35 years ago.  I'm at a point now, that I can look back on my life and see what a blessing my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been for me personally, and for my entire family.   It gets better though -- I'm now seeing my grandchildren being raised with the teachings that I embraced as a 17-year-old girl!  The knowledge that God desires His children to know, is intended to bring us a happiness and peace that is not known by the world at large.

Everything good about my life, and there's a lot of it, goes back to that prayer when I came to know that the Book of Mormon is true!  I've lived my life abiding by the principles and doctrines taught in that book.  The Book of Mormon has brought me closer to Jesus Christ, has given me a desire to live my life in a way that is pleasing to God -- and to strive to raise a family where there is love, security and the knowledge that we will be together forever!

My life has not been without its challenges.  Being married for almost 34 years, and raising five children, has stretched me beyond what I ever thought possible.  It's hard to imagine doing all of this without the guidance that I received from the Book of Mormon.  It is filled with powerful teachings that are intended to help us become more like Jesus Christ.   I've learned that the more Christlike we become, the better our life and relationships become.

That simple act of faith, to open the Book of Mormon and start reading it, to the courage that compelled me to then pray to find out if it was true, came a result that is not too much to claim -- literally changed my life!


Note:  If you've taken the time to share your own testimony, online, I'd love for you to share the link in the comment section...

The REAL Mormon Test: Making and Keeping Friends

While I'm constantly encouraging LDS members to get out and share our Mormon beliefs, online, I'm also feeling compelled to give you a little friendly counsel to ensure that everyone has positive experiences.   I was just reminded of how easily an innocent comment can be turned into a negative conversation IF we don't keep in mind that our intent is not to defend or debate our beliefs, or to convert -- but rather to provide credible information to those who are interested in learning more about Mormonism.

This friendly advice is brought to you as a byproduct of my personal experience with online communication, discussing religion, over the past four years.  My earliest experience came in forums and on various blogs, as a commenter.   My sincere desire has always been to provide credible information about the Mormon Church.  I've always felt that I had good intentions.  And I know that you do, too.

It was from these early experiences that sprung my desire to never want to debate or defend Mormonism.  Believe me, I tried.  At times I actually thought I did a pretty good job.  And maybe I did?   But in hindsight I learned that those who want to debate Mormon beliefs, are generally not the ones really interested in what I have to teach.  In fact, the opposite is true...  rather it is usually their hope to correct what they believe are my misguided beliefs.

Trust me -- when you take a non-defensive approach while sharing your beliefs with others, who may have very strong opinions, even oppositional to your beliefs, it most always will have a positive result.   And that's the most important thing to always remember -- how people feel when they've interacted with a member of the LDS Church.

Please keep in mind that when we use Social Media to share the gospel online, we are broadcasting to a large audience.  Most often you will have a positive response.  However, not everyone that sees your message will necessarily receive it as intended.  When this happens, from my experience, you have only a few basic options to ensure that your message continues to be perceived as designed.

These suggestions are also general guidelines for interacting with others, online. 

You can completely ignore the response -- which I don't generally recommend.  Most often when taking this approach, particularly when a very negative comment has been made, debate often ensues with others commenting who feel the need to come to the rescue -- and it might not be yours!    
Correct any misinformation presented -- keep it very brief and factual, and include a link to a credible resource.  With this non-defensive approach it is very likely that your intent will be understood by others, with no further interruptions. 
Politely acknowledge differences -- often times our friends require validation that their opinions and differences are respected -- and they should be.   It really can be this simple.

In conversation DO use terms such as "in my opinion", "I feel", "I believe" and avoid absolutes such as "I know".  Always leave room for another person's perspective, regardless of how it differs from your own.  Who knows, you might learn something? 
Don't be afraid to engage --  whenever someone responds to something you share, acknowledge them.  This sends the message that you are open for discussion. 
Never hesitate to apologize if you might have unintentionally offended someone.

If you're new to having online conversations about Mormonism, with non-members, I can assure you that you are in for a treat!   Yes there will be the occasional negative response, but in general you will find that the majority of people appreciate your willingness to share your beliefs.

We can also help each other when we see another member reach out and share something about our faith, online.  Avoid being that "commenter" who feels the need to come to the rescue of another member and defend.  Remember, we don't need to defend or debate -- or even state our position.  If anything, perhaps you could provide some kind words to ensure a positive experience for others commenting -- who may not understand or agree with what has been presented.

I'm sure that others reading this post have had similar experiences.  I'd love to hear how you've taken a potential negative experience when sharing the gospel online, and made it a positive?


Mormons and Social Media - Getting Started

Mormonism Defined - Why We Believe

Facebook EVENT: Sharing the Gospel Through Social Media

Mormonism Defined - Why We Believe

If someone were to ask you to define your Mormon beliefs, would you find it difficult?  Where would you even begin?  I think this is a really good question to ponder.  After all, Jon Huntsman, who one would presume to have the ability to express himself articulately on just about any subject, seemed to stumble when he was basically asked this very question in a recent interview.   He responded by suggesting that Mormonism is difficult to explain.  Really?

For just a minute, lets put ourselves in his position and ask the same question.  How would we have responded?  I'm not here to necessarily be critical of Brother Huntsman, but more I'm using this scenario to help us clarify our own response.  Actually, he was asked if he was still a Mormon and he responded by saying "That's tough to define".

Again, really?

Perhaps we can help him out...

If you live the gospel in a way that others outside of our faith would notice, you've probably been asked the question -- What do Mormons believe about... ?  It could be Word of Wisdom related, modesty, Sabbath Day observance, etc...  When this happens, you immediately have a teaching opportunity.  We should always be prepared to confidently share our beliefs with others who sincerely want to understand what makes us different.

Perhaps the better question to ask ourselves is - WHY we believe?  Why we don't smoke and drink?  Why we don't wear immodest clothing? Why do we go to Church for three hours every Sunday?  Why do we go to the temple? Why do we wear funny underwear?  I could go on and on, but hopefully you get where I'm going...

As we begin to consider some of these questions, this should bring us closer to an understanding of how we can better share the gospel.  We don't want to begin our explanation (sharing our testimony) by inferring that how we act has to do with just being Mormon -- following a religious list of rules.   That's not enough and it teaches nothing.  "I don't _______ or I do ________ because I'm Mormon" is a convenient and polite response -- leaving the one who inquires flat broke.

Most people who know a Mormon can easily tell you what we do and don't do -- but few could explain the WHY.   LDS members need to be better at recognizing and taking opportunities to teach.  I realize that not every person who asks a Mormon a question about our religion is looking for a detailed explanation.  However, when we do sense a genuine interest in our beliefs, we should be prepared to share that which will allow the Spirit to confirm.

The Spirit confirms truth -- and here it is...   The reason that we, who call ourselves Mormon, have chosen to follow living prophets is because (and here's the why) we believe and accept that the original Church that Jesus Christ organized when He was upon the earth has been restored!   We boldly proclaim that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the re-established original Christian Church!  And yes, this is bold.

It is upon this foundational understanding that Mormonism exists.  The Book of Mormon was given to us, through the prophet Joseph Smith Jr., as a testimony that this is the work of the Lord.  The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion -- as firmly witnessed by many living prophets!  We can talk about forever families, modesty, the Word of Wisdom, temples, etc...  and it's all wonderful, but if these conversations lack the foundation for why we do what we do -- then our power to convert others is diminished.

Our Mormon missionaries, when given the opportunity to teach, present as the foundation upon which they will continue to build, the lesson on The Message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  This lesson is presented upon the greatest foundation of all -- that God loves His children and has continually striven to be heard, by those who would listen to His messengers.

We can learn by this pattern, how to most effectively share the message of Mormonism.  If we are not comfortable discussing the apostasy and the need for a complete restoration, then we could study the lesson in Preach My Gospel.  It's an excellent resource for all members who want to study the basic doctrines and teachings of the LDS Church.   You might also appreciate a more simplified version found in the Gospel Principles Manual.

I'm not suggesting that it is necessary for you to be prepared to teach the entire lesson on the apostasy and restoration.  I am suggesting that you become familiar enough to present an understanding of this basis for the Mormon religion, as a starting point for gospel discussions.  With this introduction it is much easier to lead people to the importance and significance of the Book of Mormon.

So the next time someone asks you why you don't drink or why you don't see R-rated movies, etc...  try to avoid blaming Mormonism.  Instead, you might consider asking them if they really want to know?   And chances are they will respond in the affirmative -- opening the door to a truly informative conversation where they will go away having learned something very important about the Mormon Church!


Mormonism is The Re-established Original Christian Church

Introduction to Mormon Beliefs

Facebook EVENT: Sharing the Gospel Through Social Media

This is your official invitation to join me on Facebook for a really exciting upcoming EVENT that will give you a simple, yet powerful way to be a part of something BIG and help to share the gospel online!  Anyone that reads my blog is well aware of the current need to share our testimony of the Book of Mormon with those who are unfamiliar with the actual book.  Many have heard of the Mormon Church (although we don't refer to it as that) and also the Book of Mormon -- but have little to no idea what we truly believe or why this sacred record is so important to us as individuals.

Using Social Media to share our Mormon beliefs is extremely simple -- and Facebook is probably the most effective of all SM platforms.   In general, most of the people that you are friends with on Facebook, are either your family or friends.  These people know you and most likely know that you're a Mormon.  Right?  But the majority of you have yet to take the opportunity to share much about your Mormon faith -- let alone your testimony of the Book of Mormon, on Facebook.

Who remembers the play Saturday's Warriors?  I saw it over 30 years ago, but one message that really stood out to me then and continues to haunt the recesses of my mind....   What IF someone that knows me never had the chance to hear the gospel?  Yikes!  Consider what it will be like to meet up with these people on the other side of the veil and have to answer to them for withholding something that could have changed the entire course of their lives???

If this sounds a bit too dramatic, then ask yourselves what your own lives would be like, right now, without the Gospel, blessings of the temple, Book of Mormon, Living Prophets, the Holy Ghost, etc... ?

OK, enough of the guilt trip.  I think you get my point.  But seriously, I'm not here to guilt you into doing something that you're uncomfortable with -- but I am here to encourage you to do something.  So let me give you the details about this event -- straight from the Facebook page...

Monday, June 27 · 12:00am - 11:30pm


Created By

More Info
On June 27, 1844, Joseph Smith, the Prophet, died a martyr to his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. During that time, the message of the restoration was slowly spreading across Europe and North America. Within a period of 14 years, church membership grew to approximately 50,000.

Missionary work in our day is much different. With a single click of a button, we can share the gospel with hundreds in a matter of seconds. At the last general conference, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf reminded us, “With so many social media resources and a multitude of more or less useful gadgets at our disposal, sharing the good news of the gospel is easier and the effects more far-reaching than ever before."

With this as a backdrop, here's the proposition. On June 27, 2011, in memory of the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, let us use our Facebook profile to share the gospel. Let us do so by posting gospel messages on our status. A few suggestions:

1. Share your favorite quote by Joseph Smith
2. Share videos from Mormon Messages
3. Share a link to or
4. Share a recent quote from general conference
5. Share this event :)

There are many ways we can spread the gospel message through social media. So please, tell us what you plan to do by posting your idea on the wall of this event.

It took 14 years for 50,000 people to join the church. Will we be able to recruit 50,000 people to join this event within the next few days? Will you consider inviting your friends to "attend?"

A marvelous work and wonder is about to come forth among our Facebook friends. Let us unite our effort and declare June 27th as a day to collectively share the gospel through social media!

I had the opportunity to chat briefly with the "person" who created the event -- Joseph Smith, The Prophet.  I assure you though, that I didn't really talk to Joseph Smith.   However, I did ask Joseph what inspired him to create the event and why he chose the specific date?  Here is his response...

"The thought to encourage everyone to share the gospel via social media kept popping in my mind yesterday. I couldn't stop thinking about it, so late last night I decided to do something about it and created the event. 
The date of the martyrdom [of Joseph Smith] is only a few days away and I was hoping that people will act quickly to spread the word about the event. Getting people to join quickly will likely have a more viral effect than creating an event that won't happen for another 3 or 4 months. That's my hope anyway."
There you have it.  A simple guy had an impression and decided to act on it.  In less than 24 hours there are already more than 650 Mormons committed to share the gospel, on Facebook, on June 27th...

So once again I ask...  will YOU join us, too?  RSVP HERE!  And please -- share this post!


The REAL Book of Mormon Musical by Mormons

With so much attention mainstream media is giving to the Book of Mormon Musical on Broadway, we have equal opportunity to share the REAL message of the actual Book of Mormon within our own sphere of influence!

That message is our testimony that the Book of Mormon is another witness of Jesus Christ and that by and through the power of the Holy Ghost others can come to know this truth for themselves.

 And it is this message that changes lives forever...

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued this brief statement in response to inquiries from the media about the musical, The Book of Mormon:

The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people's lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.

There's no arguing that the play has apparently done just that -- entertained audiences briefly.  And now  it is our turn to share with our family and friends how the REAL Book of Mormon has changed our lives and brought us closer to Christ.  Last week I gave you a few suggestions for how you could use Social Media to get started sharing the gospel online.   And now,  you can use this challenge to actually do it!

For each of us, how we decide to share our own testimony of the Book of Mormon with others will be different.  Those of us who have personal blogs could consider writing our testimony and sharing it with our readers.  Others may choose to use Social Media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, to share various LDS Church resources about the Book of Mormon.  There are numerous ways for us to take the opportunity to share our testimony of the Book of Mormon, online.

My friend, Seth Adam Smith, produces wonderful videos on various Mormon topics.  He just completed this amazing video, in response to the play - The Book of Mormon.  I just had to share it with you!  You might consider sharing it, too.

The REAL Book of Mormon Musical by Mormons 

This is really exciting...  Due to the many conversations that are undoubtedly going on in New York,  you should know that the LDS Church has officially launched the "I'm a Mormon" campaign on Broadway!

"Billboards in Times Square, signs on taxi tops and ads in subways feature a few of the 14 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with the statement "I'm a Mormon."  The ads refer people to the website, where they can read the profiles of more than 30,000 Mormons, chat live with representatives who will answer questions about the faith, and watch dozens of videos giving a glimpse into the lives of Latter-day Saints from all over the world. 
This latest campaign is a continuation of an undertaking that was launched in nine cities last year.  The effort seeks to break through the stereotypes of what people think they know about Mormons and demonstrates that the Church consists of diverse people from all walks of life who seek to follow Jesus Christ. That message seems to resonate with those seeking to better understand Mormons."

You can read the entire LDS News release HERE!

And if you're interested you can check out my personal profile HERE -- and consider setting up your own if you haven't done so yet.  You might have noticed that I have the "I'm a Mormon" button on the right side-bar of this blog.  I'll be adding to this profile page my personal testimony of the Book of Mormon.  Watch for it!


Update:  I just found this video clip via the CNN Belief Blog that shows the digital billboard "I'm a Mormon" campaign in downtown New York City, Times Square.  It's pretty cool.  I hear that this can be seen right around the corner from where The Book of Mormon Musical is actually playing.  Imagine that!

Are Mormons Offended by Book of Mormon Musical?

Learn More About the Book of Mormon

Mormon Message: Moments That Matter Most

Mormon Messages newest video, inspired by Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf's  October 2010 General Conference address, Of Things that Matter Most, beautifully reminds us that we would do well to slow down a little, focus on the significant, lift up our eyes and truly see the things that matter most!

With a gospel perspective we can create the kind of moments that ultimately bring us to the Savior!

Elder Uchtdorf also teaches us that...

"The search for the best things inevitably leads to the foundational principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ—the simple and beautiful truths revealed to us by a caring, eternal, and all-knowing Father in Heaven. These core doctrines and principles, though simple enough for a child to understand, provide the answers to the most complex questions of life. 
There is a beauty and clarity that comes from simplicity that we sometimes do not appreciate in our thirst for intricate solutions."

You can read Elder Uchtdorf's entire talk HERE.  Please consider sharing this uplifting video with your family and friends.


Are Mormons Offended by Book of Mormon Musical?

Are Mormons offended by the play The Book of Mormon Musical?  In a nutshell, yes, most are.  And in my opinion we should be.  After all, I do believe God would be, too.  But my concerns don't stop there...  I can't say that these concerns would be classified as being offended, but rather a deep unhappiness with the distorted and misrepresentation of my Mormon faith -- which unfortunately many are being led to believe are accurate.

Deseret News published this excellent article, last night, in response to The Book of Mormon Musical's Tony Award for the Best Musical of the Year...

"Earlier this year, Scott Rudin, a producer for "The Book of Mormon Musical," told NPR about a conversation he had with a man who attended a preview showing of the production, which on Sunday night won nine Tony awards, including best musical. "I left the Mormon Church after my mission (in Africa)," said the man, who had brought his children to the show. "(I) married a Jewish woman and now I live in Montclair, New Jersey. My kids know nothing about my upbringing. They have learned more from this (musical) than they have from all their lives with me." 
Rudin's anecdote echoes a common refrain that the show's producers have repeated since before it opened, that "The Book of Mormon," while obviously satirical, offers an accurate depiction of Latter-day Saint doctrines and culture. Indeed, the musical's high-profile creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, have claimed in multiple media interviews to have "done their homework" when it comes to LDS teachings. 
While theater experts and media pundits have praised the musical, others have pointed out the play is not only profane and inaccurate, but actually an attack on faith more's Mollie Ziegler wrote that the play "is an entirely New York phenomenon. It mocks general religious belief using Mormon characters. It's made by media elites (media elites whom I generally like, admittedly) and enjoyed by a class of people who go to Broadway musicals." 
Likewise, New York Times columnist David Brooks observedthat "The central theme of 'The Book of Mormon' is that many religious stories are silly."
He said the play's message boils down to this: "Religion itself can do enormous good as long as people take religious teaching metaphorically and not literally."
"The only problem with 'The Book of Mormon' (musical)," Brooks continued, "is that its theme is not quite true. Vague, uplifting, nondoctrinal religiosity doesn't actually last. The religions that grow, succor and motivate people to perform heroic acts of service are usually theologically rigorous, arduous in practice and definite in their convictions about what is True and False."
A Deseret News analysis of the show's content, based on its official script and lyrics, reveals several errors and misrepresentations that go beyond the bounds of generalization for comedy's sake — and Mormonism isn't the only subject with which the Tony award-winning musical takes liberties. And those liberties can create important misperceptions.
You can read the entire article HERE.

Looking on the positive side...  I believe that the best all of us can do, is to take whatever opportunities that we personally are given to make sure that correct information about our Mormon beliefs, is made available to those within our sphere of influence.  And lets make sure our voices are kind and corrective and not loud and disciplinary when we do let our feelings be known.


Book of Mormon:  An Introduction

Learn more about the Book of Mormon
Request a FREE copy of the Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon Musical: Practical Religion for Modern Times?