ten q&a on a wednesday
{mormonism q&a, part two}

instead of sharing ten random thoughts this wednesday, i thought i would share ten questions (from blog readers) and answers (from me) on the topic of mormonism. i'm really happy to answer any questions about my faith/religion. i still have a few questions that have been left in comments to respond to and will do so in a future post. please remember that anything i've shared here is my personal belief/opinion/experience and does not reflect on the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints as a whole or any specific member of the church. and please remember to be generous and kind in your responses, whether in the comments or in your own head :) i've tried to just run through these ten questions quickly while moses is napping. he woke up in the middle of the night last night with a fever and so we both are feeling pretty rough, so apologies if my answers here didn't come out of my foggy brain perfectly articulate! i hope we all can continue the respectful conversation and valuable sharing of beliefs/perspectives.


-I follow a few young Mormon people who meet their partners the year after high school, know them for 12 weeks and get engaged?? Surely you cannot know someone that well and be certain for life after 3 months. Why is the young and quick marriage so encouraged? 
-Young marriages and quick engagements. I'm just astonished when I see these super young mormon TEENAGERS or college students get married! I understand why they are rushing it - to be able to sleep in the same bed and live together but it just seems so so young to me to get married. I'm wondering if you had a daughter, if you would like to see her married really young or explore life a bit on her own post college like you did (mission, career, living in an exciting city with friends, etc.).
-I seem to recall when you were writing about having a short engagement with Ian, you wrote about both of your firm commitment to not sleeping or living together before marriage. I would be very interested to hear how your faith impacts yours and those around you decisions related to marriage. I'd be interested in reading your perspective on how this impacted your relationship and how it may have made the dating vs. marriage distinction greater (and maybe even more rewarding!) and if you feel it has any downsides either. 
-Did you and Ian travel together before you were married? And if yes/no, are you glad you did or didn't? 

while marriage is definitely encouraged in the church, it is certainly not expressly encouraged to be "young and quick." this question is a little tricky for me to answer because i didn't get married super young, so i can't speak personally on the reasoning for those who do. i never felt a lot of pressure or urgent desire to get married until i was in my first very serious relationship after my mission - and then the pressure and desire came pretty purely from inside myself. i always wanted to complete my degree, go on a mission, start my career, travel, and live in new places on my own before i got married. everyone, including everyone in the church, is different, and that was just my own experience.

i think there are several reasons that mormons tend to marry early in life. of course the belief that sexual relationships/living with a partner should be preserved for marriage breeds some sense of urgency, as does the fundamental and deeply-held belief that marriage (and parenting) is central to human purpose and progression. mormonism is definitely a strong culture and lifestyle in addition to being a faith tradition, and i think it's pretty easy for two mormons to make a quick connection because they immediately share so many values and probably have similar outlooks on life and goals for the future.

i think there are pros and cons of marrying young and marrying older. i have to say, the longer i am married (having done so a bit later in life than many of my mormon peers) the more i see the benefits of marrying early. because ian and i had 10+ years of independence under our belts before we met, it was (and continues to be!) a real challenge to meld our lives together and achieve the kind of harmony and unity that we really want in our marriage. obviously i do not know the intimate workings of many other marriages, but to me it seems that for my friends that married a bit earlier, the transition from independence to interdependence was a bit smoother. i do not want to encourage my children to marry super early - mostly because i personally was so enriched by my single years and feel that the things i learned before i was married help me to be a good wife and mother and human in beautiful ways - but i also do not want to encourage them to actively put off marriage for many years. basically, i think somewhere in the middle is best. (obviously we don't get to just chose when we find our partner, but we do get to choose our approach to looking!)

waiting until after marriage to live/sleep together has been extremely rewarding for ian and i. of course it has also presented challenges that would have been different or absent if we hadn't have waited, but i believe the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.

to answer the last bit of the questions above, ian and i didn't travel together too much before we were married. we took some road trips and spent a weekend in texas so that i could meet his parents, but we had never traveled internationally together until a few months into our marriage! turns out we are pretty stellar travel partners - that was something i had to have a bit of unexperienced faith in before we got married! i don't have any regrets. 

Since you are married for time and eternity vs til death do us part, that means you are married in the afterlife as well, correct? How does that work if your husband dies young and you remarry? And have other kids with your new husband? Who are you married to when you both die? Also, I know you believe in a polygamist heaven. Men in the afterlife can have multiple wives. How will you feel when you and Ian are in the afterlife and he marries and has children by other women? Can women also marry multiple husbands in the afterlife? If not, why? Does Heavenly Father have multiple Heavenly Mothers? 

yes, i believe that when a couple is sealed in the temple, they are married for this life and in the afterlife (throughout eternity). my answer to the rest of your questions is: i don't know. and i'm okay with that, and look forward to learning about the answers one day. i am actually not totally sold on the point of "polygamist heaven." i would need to do much more study and prayer around that topic to say wether or not i have a personal testimony of it. (and that may be one topic for which no one on earth has completely definitive answers about.) i truly believe that everything will work out, and that god wants what is best for each of us and what will help us achieve our highest potential.

Also I have to say I am really curious about physical/sexual relationships. Do women talk a lot about this at showers and leading up to the wedding itself? My LDS friends all seem really ok being open about sex and its role in a marriage. Are women really open with each other before the wedding? Ie lingerie showers and general advice in this arena? So curious.

yes, mormon women generally do talk about physical/sexual relationships, but obviously this varies widely depending on the woman. having a bridal shower that includes lingerie gifts and advice from married women is not unusual (at least in my experience/among those i know). i was raised in a family that was very open when it came to talking about sex - i had discussions on the topic with my parents from the age of eight, and before i got married i had more detailed conversations with several family members about beginning a sexual relationship with my soon-to-be-husband. while the church does encourage parents to talk with their children about sex throughout their lives, i do wish that there was more openness around sexuality in church culture, and that more efforts were made to educate both men and women before marriage and in marriage. as in any culture that promotes abstinence, taboos and embarrassment and confusion have crept into the rhetoric around sexuality in mormonism, and i think we really need to work to change that.

What is the "priesthood"? Can you tell us more about the blessings that are prayed over people? 

in mormonism, the priesthood is - simply put - the power and authority of god. we believe that that authority was given to prophets anciently (adam, noah, abraham, moses, etc) and was passed from christ himself to his twelve apostles (through the laying of christ's hands on their heads as a physical transfer of that power) during his mortal life. after the death of christ and his apostles, that authority was not rightfully passed on, and did not exist on earth for centuries. in the early 1800s, it was restored to the earth when christ's apostles - resurrected beings - gave it to a new prophet (by the laying on of hands), joseph smith.

today, worthy men are given the priesthood in the same way that christ gave it to his apostles and they gave it to joseph smith. (and every man who holds the priesthood in the church can trace the lineage of that priesthood back to jesus christ himself.) this authority allows those who hold it to administer in the church and to perform ordinances such a baptism and marriage. it also can lend power to prayers over those who are sick or otherwise afflicted - we call these special prayers "blessings." men holding priesthood authority place their hands on the head of the person receiving the blessing and speak as inspired by the holy ghost. sometimes some oil that has been consecrated (prayed over in a specific way) is placed on the afflicted person's head as an additional symbol of healing. when someone receives a priesthood blessing, they are usually not healed instantaneously, and often are just blessed with peace and understanding that god will be with them throughout their trial, no matter how it ends.

-Are there different levels of Mormon practice? I have several friends who are Mormon and one of them does drink hot caffeinated beverages and has gone wine tasting with me. I'm not sure I understand how this fits in and she says that this is what she is comfortable with. I have another Mormon friend who is married and they are not planning on having children. Is Mormon religion supposed to be strict and therefore they are not in good standing? 
-Are there degrees of Mormon-ness? How can some drink coffee and wine and have no problem with it and some are more strict? Is there that much of a free-will factor in your beliefs? Are those things really a matter of personal choice? I know no one can judge them but God, but is there really that much leeway as to which church standards to uphold and which to do if your conscience allows?

yes, as with any religion, there is a spectrum of adherence to both doctrinal and cultural traditions. one of the very most central and emphasized principles of truth within mormonism is that all men and women have been made free to choose for themselves. of course we cannot choose consequences or alter the commandments/requirements of god, but we get to decide personally what we believe and what actions we make. and because mormons are mistake-prone, easily-proud people just like all other humans on earth, sometimes members of the church can be really judgmental about the choices of others in the church when it comes to keeping god's commandments. this is certainly (and ironically) against god's commandments, and church leaders very often admonish members to not judge each other's personal choices (that's our all-knowing, perfect god's job in the end).

there are some bits of mormonism that are more clearly part of faithful adherence to church teachings/god's commandments (indicating being "in good standing") than other bits. for the most part, the line between these is defined by what is required in order to get a recommend to go inside a temple. in order to receive a temple recommend, one is asked if they have a personal testimony in god, jesus christ, and the restoration of the gospel through the prophet joseph smith, if they live the law of chastity (no sexual relations outside of marriage), if they live the word of wisdom (the health code that was revealed to joseph smith and includes not consuming alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea, or harmful drugs in addition to putting good things into our bodies), if they are honest with their fellow man and good to their families, and a few other questions that i can't think of off the top of my head right this minute during nap time :)

i've found that people tend to get pretty laser-focused on things that are visible and easy to measure when it comes to others' personal righteousness. really and truly, the most important part of being a "good mormon" is loving god and loving others - that love is what christ taught and what should and does propel us to keep all other commandments of god.

-If the Mormon church were not true, would you want to know? 

-As I read your blog, I find myself wondering sometimes if you truly believe the LDS church is the "one true church?" You seem to be very open minded and accepting and you seem to find the beauty in all expressions of faith -- not just in LDS expressions of faith. As you are marveling at the beauty of how the Balinese, for example, live and express their faith, are you simultaneously sort of sad for them that they aren't LDS and won't be going to the top tier of heaven (celestial kingdom)? Are you sort of sad for them that they will only be able to go to a lower tier of heaven? 
-The idea of "lower tiers" of heaven for people who live beautiful and faithful lives -- but who do not share my theology feels so very condescending (not to mention a tad silly). 
-Do you think your spiritual experience of feeling like you are in the one true church is unique to Mormonism? What about the billions of people of the planet who get the same confirmation from God that they too are in the right church?

if the mormon church were not true, of course i would want to know! that's why i consistently ask god questions, ponder on my faith, and study out certain spiritual principles and ideas.

while i do believe that the authority to perform saving ordinances (such as baptism and eternal marriage) exist in and only in the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints (and therefore believe that it is "the only true and living church upon the face of the earth" in that sense), i absolutely believe that there is truth in all religions, and that those outside of mormonism absolutely can and do receive genuine revelation of truth from god. of course i want others to experience the joy, peace and love that i have experienced through my faith, and want to share what i believe with those who feel something is missing in their lives or have questions that mormonism can help them find answers to. but no, i'm not "sad" for those that aren't lds, because i believe that we are all on different paths in this life and that we all will, in this life or the next, have a perfect opportunity to qualify for the top tier of heaven (the celestial kingdom). the bit of time that we are on earth, which is just a tiny blip when considering eternity, is a different journey with different elements of and experiences with truth intertwined for each individual. i believe i have much to learn about qualifying for heaven from the peace and meditation of buddhism and the love for fellow man emphasized in the quran and the reliance on christ's grace in many sects of christianity.

i'm sure that my experience of feeling like i have found truth in my religion is not unique to mormonism. i think the people who get a similar confirmation from god about their own religion are indeed being inspired by a heavenly father who loves them and sees the path they are in this life on as good for them. (of course i believe that some messages are getting woefully mixed up in the case of those that think god is telling them to kill themselves and blow up others, or do other awful things.) i'm genuinely excited to see how it all works out in the end, and i'm sure that mormons will be surprised by some things we got wrong!

-I'd be interested to know more about garments! When do you start wearing them, when do you wear them, etc.
-Undergarments. Sorry if this is a personal question but do you really wear them!? I always thought of this as something that only super strict mormons do. I can't picture you or any member of your extended family (especially Shawni and her family) wearing undergarments. Perhaps only when visiting the temple or for religious ceremonies? The honor code around dress seems to be a bit relaxed for some people, especially if you live in a warm climate.

i started wearing the sacred temple undergarments when i first was "endowed" in the temple just before my mission (young adults are usually endowed - meaning they enter the temple and make sacred promises with god - before a mission, marriage or just when they feel ready to make that spiritual step). i wear the garments every day and every night - basically at all times unless there is an obvious reason to not wear them (when showering, swimming, participating in really rigorous physical activity, etc.). when we are endowed, we promise to wear the garment at all (reasonable) times to help us remember our faith and our covenants. many religions include symbolic clothing worn as a reminder and representation of beliefs. i actually genuinely love wearing garments. i am completely used to them, rarely find them uncomfortable (although i do definitely have my moments!), and honestly appreciate the constant reminder. there are a variety of options when it comes to buying garments - different sizes, cuts, and fabrics - so everyone can find what works best for them.

I'm interested in the afterlife. Are you and Ian given a planet? And then you're basically equal to Heavenly Father? On your own planet will you have a Jesus? Will you send your son to your planet to die for the people there? I'm hoping these questions don't seem rude! I know a little of Lds theology and these questions have come up for me (perhaps because of my own misunderstanding!) 

fascinating questions! another batch of queries that i will be excited to learn the answers to one day :) essentially, i believe in eternity, and that all of us have the opportunity to keep learning and progressing throughout eternity. for me, heaven doesn't sound like heaven at all if it's just about kicking our feet up and relaxing - can you imagine how boring that would be for millennia?! i want to keep growing and developing and creating and improving - and i believe that is god's plan for all his children.

Did you feel comfortable as a teen doing worthiness interviews with your bishop? (Forgive me if there is a more official term- I have no idea what they are called) I had Mormon friends in high school who talked about those interviews and I just about died from second hand embarrassment and awkward feelings. Does everyone have to go through those, and from what age? It sounds a little like getting called to the principal's office, but maybe it's friendlier than that? Will you feel okay about Moses or future daughters having these interviews, particularly questions related to sexual habits?
From an outsider's perspective, it seems really wrong for an adult male to speak to girls (and boys! But girls feels more icky) about such personal things. Can parents sit in on these interviews to protect their children?

before sacred ordinances (such as baptism, a priesthood ordination, or entering the temple) happen for an individual, that individual (regardless of age) is usually interviewed by the bishop - their local church leader. this is usually a very positive experience. the ideal (and, from what i understand, the usual) is that the bishop already has a good relationship with the person being interviewed, and it is an opportunity for the interviewee to feel and express faith, confidence and worthiness (or qualification for the ordinance). i don't remember ever feeling uncomfortable in a conversation with my bishops growing up.

sexual purity is a requirement for participating in sacred ordinances. i agree that it feels icky for an adult male to speak to girls (and boys) about sexual habits in a "worthiness interview." this is actually one thing i have been thinking about lately that i feel perhaps needs to change within the church. i'm sure that there is a way to accomplish the goal of evaluating worthiness without putting people (especially young people) in a potentially compromising situation  - such as involving parents or female church leaders.

I'm kind of surprised people aren't asking about the whole coffee and tea being banned (strongly discouraged?) while sodas, hot chocolate, and energy drinks are not. I guess I will :) I love my morning coffee so so much! It's so hard for me to wrap my head around a loving God denouncing something that grows naturally from His own earth. I rarely drink wine, but if something is good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me. Have you ever tried these forbidden things? No need to defend your choices. It's not my business what you eat and drink. I'm just curious if you discuss and weigh these issues openly, or just follow the rules because those are the rules. If ice cream and pizza were added to the list, would you comply? Would brewing some morning coffee at Bear Lake raise eyebrows or be accepted as personal choice/free agency?

i believe (and gained said belief through earnest personal inquiry) that god revealed a law of health to the prophet joseph smith in the early 1800s. i believe that god has clearly indicated that alcohol, tobacco, tea, coffee, and harmful drugs are not for the body and consumption of those things should be avoided completely. i don't understand all of the science behind these substances and their effects on human bodies, but i truly believe that an all-knowing and perfectly loving god has warned us against them and given us the advice to not consume them at all. many religions have health codes like ours.

the health code revealed to joseph smith (which we call the word of wisdom) also includes admonitions to partake of fruits, vegetables and grains and to eat meat sparingly. one big beef (excuse the pun) that i have with church culture/tradition right now, is that generally mormons tend to be very hyper-focused on not partaking of alcohol, tobacco, tea, coffee and drugs but oftentimes do not seem to follow the rest of the word of wisdom - eating healthy things and eating meat infrequently. we are taught very emphatically in the church that our bodies are temples and precious gifts from god that help us become like him, yet there seems to be a trend among (some) members of the church to eat lots of sugar, unhealthy meals, soda, etc. obviously i'm in no position to judge anyone else's personal choices (and surely i need to do better myself!), but i hope that we as a community can become better at living the law of health we espouse more completely.

i have never tried any of the substances that are indicated in the word of wisdom as being not good (in any amount) for our bodies. i personally do discuss and weigh these issues openly - i can't speak for other members of the church, but i would say that most mormons do as well. yes, if ice cream or pizza were added to the list by god (likely communicated through his living prophet), and i gained a personal conviction that that addition was truly divine, of course i would comply. i'm positive that god is the best nutritionist ever - i would trust his advice :) (but man, that would be tough. how did you pick my two absolutely favourite foods for that question!? haha!) if someone made coffee at bear lake, it would raise eyebrows and i'm sure we would talk about it openly.


happy wednesday! life is beautiful :)


  1. I LOVE these questions, and I super duper appreciate your answers. As a non-Mormon, I actually did receive a priesthood blessing at the time I was investigating the church. It was very powerful and left me in tears (also compiled by the fact I was about to undergo a huge life change - marriage and moving to another country).

    I still find the LDS faith intriguing and wonder if, someday, I will be a member. The part hanging me up, aside from concerns/differences between my liberal believe vs. Conservative Church beliefs, is that my husband is adamantly against organized religion and Church... so, maybe in the afterlife for me �� maybe not... we will see!

    All I know is that I think you, Charity, are awesome for being so transparent answering genuine curiosities of your readers. I love learning about other faiths and cultures and feel quite enriched reading your faith-based posts!

    1. Hi Sabrina,
      I want you to know that you can be the goodly person YOU choose to be without necessarily having to join the LDS church or any other organized religion.
      You can even choose to adopt certain LDS beliefs you like and think are factually good ideas, like not using recreational drugs, alcohol, or tobacco.
      I believe in YOUR good judgement and recognition that building a logically and ethically sound belief system can and should include your own personal moral perspectives and cultural and political views as well as wisely selected ideas borrowed from religion. A caveat: beware of those who try to convince you that your own views on life matters are not good enough. You probably know more than you think you do! Beware of simplistic, all-or-nothing, black and white religious dogma. At the end of the day, all you have to rely on with the LDS or Catholic churches is their leaders' CLAIMS to receiving divine revelation, and that doesn't make it necessarily so! Don't be gullible.
      High-obedience churches like the LDS (Mormon) Church,the Catholic Church, many "Bible-believing" evangelical churches, and the Muslim faith all push the idea that a person's own moral-ethical intuitions are never good enough, therefore they must surrender their own will and good judgement completely and do only what their religion's authorities tell them to do (eg. the Bible's authors, the LDS Prophet, the Pope, Islamic Imams). This then leaves adherent members vulnerable to all sorts of morally unjustifiable, burdensome, and unreasonable demands, such as the LDS core teachings that MARITAL non-procreative sexual intercourse (the ONLY sex act formally approved of by the Church), while nominally permissible, must nonetheless be limited to infrequent occasions (think 2-3 times a YEAR) and must not be done to "satisfy lusts and passions," in other words, the husband's and/or wife's physiological need for sexual release. Yes, this is a core Church teaching! Likewise, all "unnatural" sex acts-- manual foreplay including mutual mastur*****n, aka "petting," oral and anal sex, woman-on-top, standing, and sitting positions-- are expressly forbidden, although the LDS authorities try to hide this and the above teachings from newer members and the public. This doctrinal obfuscation is called, "Milk before meat." These teachings are still clearly in effect, because they regularly appear in official Church manuals of doctrinal instruction and often buried within LDS General Conference talks (sermons).
      I am an LDS member who was raised by LDS parents in the Church. I agree with some of the teachings, but I also find many of the teachings and doctrinal nuances to be highly objectionable on moral grounds and, sometimes, in direct conflict with the Bible.
      The LDS teachings about rigid traditional gender roles, that the only permissible "role" for a woman is to be a full-time, non-earning (think, no home-based businesses or outside job), married mother with a large number of kids and subservient to her husband, are unwise and unacceptable.
      Don't tie yourself and 10% of your gross (PRE-tax) income to the LDS Church or any other church or the Bible.
      DO selectively separate the wheat from the chaff and incorporate good ideas from the Bible and other sources of wisdom and knowledge into your thinking, without letting yourself be drawn in to adopting extreme beliefs in the name of false "righteousness." Beware of religious folk who "hook" you emotionally by using brute force psychological intimidation tactics of induced fear, guilt, shame, inadequacy, and insecurity to rope you into surrendering your valuable, sacred personal liberty to a MANMADE religious belief system.
      I know you can do much better than that.
      Good luck and best wishes!

  2. While spouses are "interdependent" i think it's also important to understand that we are each, individually, responsible as adults for our own health and happiness. A husband cannot work to make his wife happy and vice a versa. He can, and should, try to please, support, love, and just generally enjoy life with her. However, if one feels a sense of discontent I think that needs to be adressed through ones own actions;not looking to someone else for a solution. (So many times I thought "if only he'd just..." and that was really unproductive )

    Are you still planning to move? Not having enough space can be very stressful in a family; especially felt by the folks that spend more time at home. While the big houses is many modern American suburbs are wasteful I've found in my life that super small and efficient spaces can be stressful and limiting as well. We all need privacy and space in order to Be our best selves.

    1. i totally agree, jenny! well said.

      yes, we are planning to move by the end of the year. we have enough space, but it will be nice to have a bit more :)

  3. THANK YOU!!! I am so touched and thankful you have taken the time to answer all of these questions ( a couple of mine!). I find the church so fascinating and intriguing and I'm so glad to know more about it. I love love love that you are so open about the things you wouldn't mind changing within the church instead of pretending you love and agree with everything, it shows that when you agree and describe something you love about the church you truely do mean it! I hope there are many more posts about this!!

    1. I agree with you, Amy re: Charity's transparency about the church (good and not-as-ideal). Makes me realize (as a former Church investigator) that there is room for me :)

    2. i'm so glad you've both enjoyed these posts. i'm always happy to answer questions about my faith - leave them in the comments any time you have them :)

  4. Thanks Charity for answering my questions! I asked some of the ones about marriage. I agree with you wholeheartedly that you can't control when you meet your partner so trying or not trying to get married young or get married older seems a bit impossible. I am getting married this year (I'm 26) and it feels very young compared to my peer group (I live in New England where people tend to marry older), but my fiance and I have been dating for 7.5 years so we feel that it is time! We also live together now but I think that was the best choice for us just as it sound like not doing so was the best choice for you and Ian, and it's been really interesting to hear from a difference perspective about marriage. Thanks again, Charity! ps. Hope you had a great birthday!!

    1. thanks natalie! for reading, for sharing your perspective and questions, and for the birthday wishes :)

  5. Charity, thanks so much. I learned a lot from this post. I also appreciate that you are always questioning things and thinking about them rather than blindly accepting doctrine.

    I do have a couple of questions, though, and I know you are busy, but if you could answer here or in another post, that would be great. Please forgive me if they seem rude or are asked incorrectly.

    I would like more info about your "personal testimonies" and "personal convictions". You say that you are not "sold" on the concept of a polygamist heaven and are waiting for a revelation from God on whether that is true. Same with if all of a sudden pizza were outlawed. If your church teaches and has passed down doctrine on polygamist heaven (which it has done) - isn't that enough for you to believe it? Seems like saying you haven't received your "testimony" on something, like maybe the food restrictions.. is just an excuse to eat or drink it anyway. You know, while you are waiting for God to personally tell YOU that it's a correct teaching.

    Also, I would like to know why a man like Joseph Smith was chosen to be contacted by those "resurrected beings" - I know all men are imperfect, but he's a bit more than that. It's been proven that he had sex with and married children as young as 12, without their parent's consent. Seems like God would have chosen someone a bit less imperfect to base his entire modern day church on.

    Lastly, you mention Adam as a prophet. Adam, as in Adam and Eve? Adam did not prophesy. He is the first sinner and his sin of disobedience is the reason why humans today are in need of a savior. Do you believe that if Adam had not sinned, the earth would still be a paradise as in the garden of Eden?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Do you ever wonder if prophets made "rules" or whatever it is you call them for their own benefit or because it was their own personal conviction? It's hard to believe that it all came directly from God -- Yes, polygamy! Coffee and tea are bad! Wear undergarments! Blacks can't receive the priesthood! Don't expose your shoulders or thighs (um, why?)! I think there may have been some prophets back in the day (when times were very very different) that came up with this stuff and it's no longer relevant so the church has had to back track on some of it... and probably will continue to do so.

    2. Of course they can "back track" or put another way - update their teachings/doctrine to be more in line with modern day living. But if they do, shouldn't it be seen by members of the church as "new light" being given from God? And shouldn't they accept it as such, rather than having to pray on it and wait for their own "personal" testimony from God? If you believe that the modern day prophets are acting on instructions straight from God, why does Charity find it necessary to pray on it and ask God for a revelation to her personally that it is true? Shouldn't she be able to trust her prophets? If God told her no, then wouldn't that make everything else the prophets have said questionable? Can you believe some things the prophets say but not all? Does it not ALL come from God?

      What would happen if you got the personal word from God that there is a polygamist heaven? Even if it personally grossed you out and you feel inside that it could NOT be true - but God said yes? Could you reject that belief - that basic tenet of the church, and still call yourself LDS?

    3. Accept it? Maria, that is exactly what the North Korean's do!

    4. How can you say that God speaks/spoke personally to a prophet, but until you get some sort of divine testimony yourself, you can't believe it?

    5. hi maria, et all. thanks for the discussion and the questions. i'll do my best to reply!

      essentially, i believe both that god speaks through his prophets and that it's possible for prophets to make mistakes. and i also believe that god *wants* us to develop *personal* convictions, and not just follow blindly. my default is always that what the prophets say (in an official way, not anything they ever say!) is truly inspired by god and is god's will. that is my default because i have earnestly sought a personal conviction that god's prophets truly are god's prophets. but if something a prophet says seems a bit "off" to me, or puzzles me, i study it out and ask god if it's right. so far, i've never been told something in my personal prayers that is expressly in contradiction with what a living prophet has said. but i am open to that possibility, and i think god wants me to be. i hope that makes sense? i can see how it could seem like an "excuse" - but i just genuinely want (and believe it is right) to trust an all-knowing, perfectly loving god above anyone or anything else.

      i don't know all the reasoning behind why joseph smith was chosen to be the prophet of the restoration. surely he had his faults, and i think he messed up (kind of big time) in a few ways (although i think your facts may be a little off - while it has been confirmed that he married wives as young as 14, he apparently did not have sexual relationships with many of his wives). frankly, i think restoring the church (and all the stuff that went along with that) was a totally crazy *trip* that would be hugely challenging for anyone. it's interesting (and in many ways, faith-promoting) for me to learn more about joseph smith's history, but the bottom line for me is that, no matter what details i learn about him, i have received an answer from god that i can't deny that he truly was a prophet.
      (as a side note, i guess i am more amazed by joseph smith's story - that he, as an uneducated farm boy produced the book of mormon, that he continued on in his cause despite being outrageously persecuted, etc - than i am that god would chose someone who made big (and seemingly gross) mistakes to restore his church.)

      lastly, yes, i believe that adam was a prophet. and yes, i believe that if he and eve had not partaken on the fruit in the garden of eden, the earth would still be a paradise ... and god's plan would be entirely damned - all the rest of his children would not be able to come to earth, gain physical bodies, have a mortal experience, and qualify to become like him.

      i hope that helps answer some of your questions! thanks for being here!

    6. Hi Charity, I have been an active member of the LDS church my entire life and there is absolutely NO PROOF that Joseph Smith did not have sex with all of his wives. The odds are very high that he DID have sex with each and every one of his wives. That is part of being a husband and wife. This is part of our LDS church history that we have to come to terms with. Joseph Smith married up to 40 women. Many of them married to men that were still alive. And one of them as young as 14 years old. You are entitled to believe that he did not have sex with the 14 year old girl or the married women, but the odds are that he did. It is wrong of you to write such false information when you have no proof to back it up. I have been a member of the LDS church my entire life and not once have I seen a document by Joseph Smith or heard a general authority say that says Joseph Smith did not sleep with his wives. Have you? Of course he slept with them. It took me a while, but I have come to terms that Joseph Smith was a womanizer who used his power in unrighteous ways. Many religious leaders have done so and Joseph Smith is no different.

    7. hi there!
      i certainly didn't mean to provide false information! my understanding of joseph smith and polygamy comes from this article, published by the church: https://www.lds.org/topics/plural-marriage-in-kirtland-and-nauvoo?lang=eng

      the bit about marriages for eternity only got me thinking about sexual relationships (and i think i must have read someone's opinion elsewhere that this may have meant a lack of sexual relations). i should have re-read my response before posting because now i realize it does make it sound like i am quite confident that joseph smith didn't have sex with some of his wives, and obviously i have no proof of that! i unfortunately don't have time to make every response to every question perfect :)

      i am in no way trying to promote proofless information or write off any part of our history. thanks for pointing out that my response came across a bit wrong.

  6. As a believing LDS (convert as teenager many years ago) I just want to compliment you on your honesty, tolerance and courage in answering all these questions. That is not easy to do! And I like that you stress these are your personal feelings and experiences from your heart.
    In addition, just a little aside to the people who were so curious about the undergarments and who wears them, not that it is anyone's business; but just for the curious - you could look at pictures of the LDS people you are curious about, on a warm summer day, and see what they are wearing. If they are wearing shirts with a bit of a sleeve and shorts almost to the knee (unless they are at the beach, the hospital or on a strenuous hike), then that may give you an idea.

    1. I think when we make statements like, "Not that it's anyone's business; but just for the curious" it makes the garments seem even more foreign and weird. People are genuinely curious as to when and where people wear them and why they wear them. I understand why we might feel defensive, as they are considered sacred (and it is our underwear for goodness sake!) however I think it's best to be honest and open. The more secretive we are, the more it makes outsiders and investigators uncomfortable. One of my good friends in college converted to the Mormon church and left IMMEDIATELY when she found out about garments and was very deeply hurt that the missionaries never mentioned them during lessons and discussions on the temple. She said she felt like her trust was violated. So thank you for being open, Charity.

    2. I don't feel at all defensive about my garments personally. I'm happy to 'show and tell', and I agree it's important to be open about it. I was just trying to be sensitive about others' privacy, and non-judgmental about who may or may not be wearing garments in the Eyre family or any other young LDS blogging family.

  7. Charity, I must say that I am so impressed with how you articulate LDS theology and your own feelings/beliefs. Thank you for being articulate, sincere, kind, and open. If we lived in the same city, I would want you to be my friend!

  8. So would you encourage a daughter to unseal herself to her late husband to get sealed to her second? How would the Inlaws feel? Would you want your daughter in law to unseal to a husband to remarry? If your son married for the first time a widow who was sealed to her first husband would you be okay with his marrying her for time and all the children going to the first husband? Would you be okay if he is married, temple worth, but never sealed? Would you remain unmarried if you lost a spouse, God forbid, so not to complicate heaven for future potential kids and spouses? Sealing sounds lovely but not all can be sealed. How do kids feel that their mom and them are no longer sealed to their actual dad, but their step dad? Some of the attractive details are also alarming details.

    The rest of the world marries until death, meaning they will be exclusive to one another until one of them dies. I really wonder how the Bible is translated since Jesus clearly doesn't want us to be concerned about marrying in the next life when asked who the widow of many son's will be The husband in the end. The point is to be with God. We may work or rest, we may be with loved ones or not. It's very vague.

    I would recommend doors with glass windows for private meetings between leaders and minors if the must happen. It's what the Catholic Church has done to the doors of the confessional, if they aren't like that already.

    1. You don't break sealings between children and parents. Spouse sealings are only broken when there is a serious cause. You make it sound way more complicated than it is.

    2. I am glad to hear the seal is broken btw a parent and child. If a God forbid Charity dies and she remarries and has a child, to whom are the kids sealed? She can't be sealed to two men at the same time. Does she have to unseal first to allow the new husband to be sealed to his own kids? Where does that leave her late husband? Single? I thought marriage was so important to the next life?

    3. I think my comment was deleted. By Charity? That's out of character. I'll try again as a test.

      I said why don't we stop worrying about all this sealing stuff and enjoy our present life now. I don't believe in an afterlife, since the Bible says that we return to the dust from whence we came. It also says that the dead are unconscious. The big sleep, opposite of alive. Not alive somewhere else.

      Not a popular opinion, I know, so lets see if I get deleted again.

    4. hi there. i did delete your original comment because you used the name of jesus christ as an expletive, which is one of the very few things i do get offended by, and i didn't want that on my blog. i am glad you commented again without that and sharing your opinion/perspective. while i disagree that there is no afterlife, i totally agree that we should spend our energy enjoying (and learning) in our present life than worrying about the intricate details of how things will be worked out in the afterlife.

    5. Thanks. Sorry I offended, it was meant to be funny. Glad we agree, at least on some things.

    6. Anon- Your body returns to dust, not your Spirit. But maybe you won't believe this reality until you die yourself. Which I think will be quite an amazing experience. The after life is awesome to learn about and understand. It's especially important to those who have lost loved ones- it's very comforting to know that death isn't the end. There is so much more to this glorious life than just what we can see and understand with our eyes.

    7. Anon 2 - you're right, we won't find out whose beliefs are correct until we die. But we do have the Bible to go by, and it says that "the meek will inherit THE EARTH". Psalms 37:29 says "the righteous will possess the earth AND RESIDE FOREVER UPON IT". The Lord's Prayer says "thy kingdom come, thy will be done ON EARTH as it is in heaven."

      There are plenty more scriptures that say "the dead are conscious of nothing, their thought do perish".

      So, yeah, the afterlife is something that people have dreamed up so that they are not totally devastated when they lose a loved one. Rather than the horrible realization that the person is just plain gone, they like the idea of looking forward to a big Heavenly Family Reunion one day. It's just not scriptural.

    8. Jesus said the thief would be with him in paradise. The transfiguration suggests existence of Moses and Elijah. They ain't exactly only dust. The rich man while in torment saw the poor beggar with abraham after death. None of them were only dust either. There will be a new heaven and new earth. Seems you skipped over parts.

  9. Great suggestions! There are glass windows in all the meeting rooms at the church.

  10. I am loving your answers to questions about the LDS faith! I especially appreciate how you're answering questions that might be seen as a little taboo like about garments, sexuality, polygamy in heaven etc.

    On the topic of marrying young, something a couple said on my mission really stuck with me. He had to come home early from his mission so they got married at 19 and 18. Over ten years later they told us that you have to grow up either way. So if you get married young you grow up together, and if you don't you grow up apart before you get married. I appreciate your honesty about the difficulties of getting married a little later after having grown up apart!

  11. As always, I really enjoyed reading this post & the comments. Thank you for articulating your beliefs so well. I have had some of the same thoughts about bishopric interviews/female leadership!

  12. I love love love these posts! Religions of all kinds have often intrigued me. I was raised Baptist and now attend a non-denominational church. I went to Central America for a mission trip last year and have been struggling since as one of the requirements was to destroy any non evangelical bibles (Catholic, LDS, Jehovahs Witness, etc). What are your thoughts on our bibles (NIV, etc) - word of God but incomplete?
    Also, I believe that a personal relationship with Jesus is central to my faith and wonder if the other stuff that separates our organized religions matters at all - thoughts?

    1. Did they really make you destroy the word of God? As a catholic and a librarian I'm really offended a church would encourage their missionaries to destroy any bible. It is one thing to get a different edition during conversion process but did they have to be destroyed? Couldn't they be dropped off at the nearest JW/LDS/Catholic Church or a thrift shop? So many don't have their own bible and that is a shame no matter which one you read. I can see why you struggled.

    2. i believe that there's certainly problems with translation of the bible. over centuries things have gotten mixed up here and there. but i believe the bible to be the word of god and that i can be inspired from pretty much any translation of it.

      while i believe that a personal relationship with jesus is the most important part of faith, i also believe that in order to be with and become like god we have to take certain steps that require proper authority. for example, i believe it is absolutely necessary to be baptized in order to live with god again, and that baptism doesn't count in that way unless it is performed by someone that has been authorized by god to perform the ordinance. does that make sense? i believe that, not in this life but certainly in the next, everyone will have a perfectly good opportunity to achieve god's requirements with god's authority.

  13. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkTz_NQqKA8&sns=em For those who might have questions about garments and other sacred clothing.

  14. The same little video cited above is also at www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/temple-garments

  15. Hi Charity - I was going back to re-read some of the comments on your Q&A post Part 1 and found where you said this:

    "fundamentally i do not believe that it is a choice to be homosexual or that someone can chose not to be."

    If and when you do address the LGBT issues (or here in the comments) please clarify. Do you mean that God purposely created people as homosexuals?
    You also said that homosexual relations are contrary to God's will. Why would God create people that he knew were going to be contrary to his will with no choice in the matter?

    Either (1) you consider homosexuality to be a "condition" someone is born with like a birth defect or (2) you are saying that God didn't know that some people would be born homosexual..which can't be since God knows everything, right? or (3) that homosexuality is just a sinful tendency some people are born with like pride, jealousy, etc that they should work to overcome..

    Which of these is it?

    1. hi again, maria!

      i don't know exactly - i think i would have to study this out and inquire in prayer quite thoroughly to get a definitive answer on this one ... or it very well may be something that god doesn't see fit for us to understand perfectly in this life.

      from my current (incomplete) understanding, i think it's perhaps some mix of 1 and 3. i don't think that homosexuality is necessarily a "defect," but i also don't think it's something that people can overcome with willpower and righteousness. what i believe solidly is that it is not definitively a choice and that god is all-knowing (and perfectly loving).

      does that answer your question?

    2. Then why do you support a religion that *punishes* people for something that isn't their fault? Can you imagine being told you can't express your love for your husband publicly, be sealed to him the temple or to have your son in your life, but that it's also not your choice to change your circumstances? Put yourself in a gay person's shoes. Think of how your church ostracizes them, how YOU ostracize them. I just can't anymore with Mormonism. You're so blind to the hurt you cause to so many people.

    3. You have a point.

    4. i have tried to put myself in a gay person's shoes. and frankly, it's excruciating - even with my very limited understanding of their experience. but i simply cannot deny what i have come to know through personal spiritual experience - that romantic union and marriage is intended to be a partnership of opposite sexes, and that this life is only a tiny sliver of eternity. it really, really stinks that there is so much hurt that comes from this issue, and i am so looking forward to that being perfectly resolved one day because of jesus christ. i know what i'm saying sounds simplistic, and probably tone-deaf, but i cannot deny what i believe and that i trust god above all else.

    5. I think the anonymous above makes a good point. You mentioned above that this life is just one sliver of eternity and that those who are not LDS in this life may nevertheless find their way to the celestial Kingdom in the end. If that's true, I cannot see why anyone who is LGBT would put themselves through the pain and loneliness of being LDS in this life. Why shouldn't they be able to experience the kind of love that you can? Why put yourself through loneliness in this life if you can move on to heaven in the next life?
      I am trying so hard to be respectful here, but I'm struggling because I really find your views on this issue upsetting. If I'm being honest, think that you and others who are LDS need to take a long hard look in the mirror. You are part of something that is doing people real harm. Does your personal spiritual experience really trump the hurt that LDS teaching and culture can cause LGBT people? Ultimately, there is you faith on one side of the scale (which means a lot to you,of course, but as you acknowledge can't be proven to anyone else in any quantifiable way) and the real problems faced by LGBT people in the LDS church (which are evidenced by numerous studies on suicide rates, mental health issue etc as well as reports of lived experiences).

    6. hi again beca! thanks for sharing your thoughts. they have really resonated with me and i think i really can see where you are coming from.

      i don't understand all the complexities in these issues, but i do think it would be outrageously difficult to spend a lifetime with someone of my own sex and then realize that i cannot reach my full potential or become like god without being married to someone of my opposite sex (...harder than spending this life without a romantic partner to whom i am physically attracted). obviously i do not truly understand the gay experience because i am straight, so i understand that me saying this is quite trite. yes, this life is a tiny sliver of time, but it's a very defining sliver of time. it's the time god has given us to be tested in a mortal capacity. i wonder if that helps you to understand where i am coming from a little bit? i wish i had more time to really work on articulating things perfectly, but i just don't right now.

      i agree that we should all take a long hard look in the mirror and consider how we might be harming others. this discussion on my blog has helped me to do that even more, and i am sincerely glad for that. ultimately, i truly believe that a loving god has a plan for all of his children, and that gender and heterosexual union is truly central to that plan. i feel i cannot deny that spiritual knowledge. frankly, that sucks. it sucks a lot that it causes people hurt (again, so so trite, but i don't know how else to say it...). but there is a greater plan for all that hurt. there is so much that is so much greater than anything we know in this life. the church as an organization and individual members of the church need to do better in confronting the issues you've mentioned (suicide rates, mental health issues, hurt in everyday lived experience), but we cannot change god's doctrine, his plan, or his immense and all-knowing love.

      i'm not sure if this makes sense, but it's what i have time to contribute to as a reply to your comment right now. again, thank you for reading and for sharing!

  16. Very interesting! Thank you for sharing.

  17. Hi Charity, You have my utmost admiration for answering some of those difficult questions and may I say you are doing such a great job of them.On the subject of polygamy, have you read the article on SquareTwo "Polygamy" by Valerie Hudson Cassler.Thought it's such an interesting and inspiring article on her perspective of polygamy and it further strengthened my testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints.

  18. I really appreciate how open you're being and how polite you are when answering questions. I find it fascinating how much joy you clearly get from your faith, whereas the more I learn about Mormonism, the more it terrifies me and fills me with confusion and, in all honesty, anger. I don't write this to provoke you (I actually think if we met in real life we'd be great friends. I've travelled all over the world and have a one-year-old boy), but it's fascinating how we can have such different interpretations to rituals and beliefs.

    1. I second every word. I couldn't agree more!

    2. I'm curious, Anons, what parts of Mormon belief cause you anger? I imagine its teaching that marriage is defined as strictly a male-female union, and that Priesthood offices are held only by men are probably at or near the top of your lists--but what other things bother you? Not trying to provoke--genuinely curious as to differing perspectives on religious and spiritual matters. Thanks.

    3. Hi,anon 2 here.
      Yes,exactly, these are two of the things that bother me.
      But let's not discuss it, that wouldn't change anything.
      The more I learn about this church, the more repelled i am bcause i whole heartedly disagree.
      So we agree to disagree.
      Let's just leave it at that.

    4. Fair enough. My own experience has taught me that generally when something has risen to the point of provoking anger in someone else, there is in many instances a misunderstanding rooted somewhere that may be contributing to that anger. I've found when I'm angry about something, really trying to understand it better (in most, but not necessarily all) cases helps diffuse all, or at least some of that anger. Charity has done a very good job explaining some tenets of Mormon belief here, but I'm sure she'd be the first to admit that she's really only scratched the surface on why the teachings are what they are (as it's nearly impossible to get much deeper than the surface through blog posts, as good as hers are). Often when something is viewed only from that vantage--particularly in sensitive matters like religion and spirituality--it can provoke significant hostility from those less immersed in the belief system, and consequently probably a little less informed as to why the teachings are what they are. I'm not saying a deeper understanding (and I use the word understanding as opposed to simply gaining more information, since I believe those are separate concepts) would necessarily change's one mind or heart on the issues, but I think in almost all cases it can help diffuse hostility towards a belief system that is different than one's own, and thereby increase harmony among differing belief systems. But I of course respect one's decision not to engage in that process.

    5. The things I do understand are the things that make me angry.
      It is possible to understand something and disagree with it.
      There's really nothing I could add to this discussion.
      The more i learn about mormonism the more it terrifies me.
      Sometimes people disagree, and that's ok.

    6. Things that anger me:
      - treatment of LGBT people; insistence they either be celibate or "pass" in hetero marriages in order to be Mormons
      - high rate of suicide of Mormon LGBT teens in Utah
      - The "one true church" thing just boggles my mind. It's so...arrogant? I don't pretend to have the answer about god, but I also don't pretend my answer is correct and everyone else's is wrong
      - Massive consumption of sugar by Mormons when they judge coffee and tea (this doesn't make me mad, but the blind eye intelligent adults turn towards this seemingly arbitrary distinction does make me question their ability to make adult decisions about the health of their bodies)
      - Stigma heaped on men who don't serve a mission
      - Adult male bishops asking young girls and boys whether they masturbate (which is normal and healthy, btw)
      - I could go on and on.

    7. I think the thing that angers me the most is that I really don't think Charity (or her parents, who travel the world lecturing people on how to have the "right" families) understand how truly painful it could be to be queer or trans in an environment like the Mormon church. If she did understand, I doubt she'd proudly say she'd tell a room full of gay parents that they were wrong. I can't imagine having the gaul to stand in a room and tell Charity her lifestyle was wrong. But that's because I accept all kinds of people. I believe we all deserve love and salvation (if that's your path).

    8. - treatment of LGBT people; insistence they either be celibate or "pass" in hetero marriages in order to be Mormons ---> I realize I have this slightly wrong. I know LGBT people can still be Mormons, but they cannot be sealed in the temple with their spouse and children. And for a religion that claims Families Are Forever, this must be devastating to realize you aren't one of those families.

    9. hi both anonymouses - thank you for sharing your perspective. and adam, thanks for chiming in and sharing yours as well.

      most of the things you listed that anger you also anger me. mormons as a people (certainly me included) need to be better - at understanding, at communicating, at not judging.

      and i guess i hope that those outside our faith can also strive to be better at understanding, communicating, and not judging. i truly believe that generally, we are all genuinely trying to do our best with what we know and our own experience/perspective/beliefs.

      i never said that i would "proudly" tell a room full of gay parents that they were "wrong." in fact, i would never do that - neither the attitude or the words. as i explained in the previous post that asked the question you are referring to,
      "i would be willing to say that god's plan for his children centers around heterosexual marriage to a room full of children of happily-married gay parents."

      i believe that we all deserve love and salvation. i also believe there are requirements to salvation. what would our world be like if there were no requirements for success? i believe the same applies to the eternities.

      my parents do not travel the world lecturing people on how to have the "right" families. they share ideas with parents on how to strengthen their families, no matter how those families are made up.

      you're right, i don't understand how truly painful it could be to be queen or trans in an environment like the mormon church. and i am earnestly trying to understand that more deeply.

    10. I'm sorry, but I can't accept your answer. Not that anyone cares. But it does not make any sense to associate yourself, become a member and identify yourself with what your own holy book calls the ONE TRUE CHURCH, then say that not only do you not necessarily believe it's the ONE TRUE CHURCH, but that you have major issues with its doctrines. Sorry but that just doesn't fly.

      I think that you, Charity, wants so hard to stay a member because of your family and your husband that you are trying to reconcile your own sensible, humanitarian, loving beliefs and tendencies with a church/doctrine that does not match. You are trying way too hard to make a square peg fit into a round hole, so to speak.

      You CANNOT be a member in good standing if you question the doctrines and beliefs handed down by your church leadership. Not possible. If you get your info direct from God, that's great, but then you are an independent religious person. Not a follower of a church that you don't have complete faith in.

    11. hi maria. i believe that the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints is the only church on earth that has the authority to perform saving ordinances and a living prophet that speaks for god. i do not like the way the term "one true church" has been conflated by people in and outside of the church to mean the only church that contains/teaches truth. i don't have major issues with the doctrines of the church (although i am always working to understand them more deeply, and i believe god wants me to do that). i do take issue with some cultural aspects of the church and the mistakes of church members (my own mistakes included).

      i can see how you would perceive me to be in a square peg/round hole situation, but i genuinely am not. my faith in and love for my church is incredibly deep and strong, and at the same time i recognize the failings of humans and that there are (and are supposed to be!) mysteries of god.

      you absolutely can be a member in good standing and question traditions, practices and culture ... and be continually in a pursuit of deeper understanding of doctrine. in the church (and in the scriptures - both bible and book of mormon) we are *encouraged* to ask questions.

    12. I get that you are allowed to question them. But are you allowed to blatantly disagree with them after you get your answers (from God, research, or however you come to your conclusions)?

      Of course you question doctrine, but if you come to the conclusion that quite a few of the doctrines and beliefs are not how you really feel or believe, isn't it time to change to a church that more reflects the divine answers you've been given?

      You believe that your church has "living prophets that speak from God" - yet you find it necessary to pray for your own revelations? If they speak from God, why is it necessary for you to ask God to clarify?

      Also there is only one truth. Your religion teaches certain things that are in direct conflict with other religions. Both cannot be true. Yours may teach the sky is blue and mine might teach the sky is red. We are not both correct.

    13. hi again. thanks for continuing the conversation respectfully.

      i agree that if one comes to the conclusion that quite a few of the doctrines and beliefs are not how they really feel or believe, they should probably find a different church or believe their own beliefs independently. however, anyone in such a scenario is still very much welcome to attend mormon church meetings and be a part of the community. while i do take issue with some traditions, practices and cultural aspects with mormonism, i see those as very distinct from doctrine.

      i accept the vast majority of what the prophet/apostles say (in an official capacity) as god's truth, without having to pray specifically about it for confirmation. very rarely, thy say something that seems a bit off to me and then i take that issue to god in prayer. this is what i believe god wants me to do, and it is encouraged in the church. while i trust the prophet/apostles because i truly believe they are called of god, i recognize that they are human and it is *possible* that they could mess up. i trust god much more. i do not believe in following blindly without personal conviction.

      i agree that there is one one truth. when there is a conflict in doctrine, i believe the doctrine in the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints, which i have personally come to believe in through earnest inquiry, to be the one truth. but there is a lot of commonality, and so much to learn from other faiths (beyond specific points of doctrine).

    14. Charity, I think we are arriving at common ground! That's the beauty of conversation and clarification!

      I also feel that there is commonality in most religions/churches and most are very sincere in their beliefs and feel as you do, that their church has the only true doctrine. As you said in a previous comment, we'll all have to find out eventually who was right.....

      I totally believe that imperfect men can make mistakes and/or interpret things incorrectly so I am with you on questioning things that don't seem quite right.

      I think where we differ is, that I personally would leave a religion/church if some of the points I question are basic. Such as, I know that the Bible condemns homosexuality. But to deny baptism and full church privileges to a child who has two gay parents is not fair to the child. You can't choose your parents! And you certainly shouldn't renounce their lifestyle in order to be accepted by God/a particular church. I think you know this, and I think you are having real trouble with this and other sex/gender issues in your church.

      The difference between us though, is that I would renounce a church that treated people the way the LDS church leaders say you should treat LGBTQ people, especially young people. Yes, they are imperfect, but hopefully they are not untelligent and hard hearted enough to think their treatment of these people is loving, or how a loving God would do it.

    15. agreed! thanks for conversing and clarifying :)

      i genuinely am not having "real trouble" with the new policy around children of gay parents and other sex/gender issues in my church. i am still learning about the policy, and reconciling my initial reaction to it with things i have learned (understanding i have gained from looking at it from different perspectives) and the peace i have felt when i've prayed about it. i think the church - the organization and the members - have a lot of work to do in understanding, loving and supporting when it comes to lgbtq issues. but that does not cause me doctrinal distress.

      lds church leaders say we should treat lgbtq people (especially young people) with love and respect, and with an eternal perspective. i don't understand all the complexities behind the most recent policy change, but i do believe that god's wisdom is greater than human wisdom, and our church leaders are doing the best they can to hear and communicate god's wisdom.

      i hope that helps you to better understand my beliefs/thinking.

  19. Thanks so much Charity for this fascinating series, I love learning about different denominations and I have heaps of admiration for Latter Day Saints.

    I have a science background and if you don't mind, I was wondering if I could ask a question about science and Mormonism. Do you believe in creationism, evolution or something else from the spectrum of different beliefs? Is this something that is important for Mormons or is it simply a topic that good Mormons can disagree about?

    If Science contradicted something in your faith, which would take precedent? To give an example, in the denomination of my childhood, I saw a movement of conservatives start to advocate for a "healthy" lifestyle that didn't involve Western medicine, doctors or vaccinations. There was a push from some leaders to make this a belief rather than an opinion. I very much disagreed. To give another example, I have read that there was some controversy in the Australian Latter Day Saints church (my homeland :) ) that a prominent member and geneticist said that there was no genetic evidence that Israelites made it to the Americas. He left the church. How do you reconcile the two fields?

    Thanks so much again for being brave and answering all these questions. I love your blog, it always gives me a positive boost reading about your adventures in London with your darling family.

    1. hi melissa! thanks for your questions. i'll just answer them here in the comment section, if that's okay. happy to add this to a post in the future if you'd like.

      i believe that god deliberately created the earth for the express purpose of being the mortal home of his children to live out a plan for them to find eternal joy. i do not think this belief rules out evolution. i'm not convinced we came from apes, but i definitely acknowledge that the human race has evolved over time. although the belief that the creation of the earth was overseen by god is a central tenet of our faith, the details of the science of how the earth came about and creationism vs. evolution are not a hugely important/discussed topics among mormons - i'm sure there's a spectrum of beliefs among church members in good standing.

      if science contradicted something in my faith, i would consider the contradiction in prayer, seek advice from church leaders, and go with god. ultimately, i reconcile all spiritual questions through prayer. i believe that the knowledge of men can be fickle and unstable, and that god is perfectly omniscient.

      i hope that answers your questions!

  20. Long time reader, first time commenter (is that a word?haha) I just wanted to say that I greatly admire your openness about your faith. Some of my dearest friends are LDS, and although I am not, our differences/similarities are really no different than my friends of other denominations. Because I'm familiar with the LDS faith, and the extraordinary commitment being a missionary entails, I'm always quick to say a kind word to our local Elders, and try to give them some encouragement. Anyway, I digress...I enjoyed hearing your thoughts, and beliefs. Thank you for sharing!

    Oh, and Moses is just the sweetest thing. :)

  21. Charity- Serious question! I've noticed many times on social media that when a young mormon couple gets engaged they ask people who wants an invitation and for their addresses. It seems so casual... "just comment your address and you'll get an invitation!" Are these people all invited to the actual wedding/reception? Like, the more the merrier type of thing. Just curious as that's obviously very different than non-mormon weddings. Thanks!

    1. haha this is a random question! i'm sure it depends on the couple, but yes, i would assume that all those people are actually invited to the reception (not the temple sealing, which is usually less than 40 or so people). i did not take this route when sending wedding invitations (and, like you, i think it's pretty weird, to be honest!).

  22. I have another question - I read this on another site. Please say this is not so. Or if it is, please explain how it could be.

    "....in a recent talk given by a high ranking leader of the LDS church he said that if you are faced with feeding your children or paying your tithing, you should pay your tithing...."


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