Many people have questions about the Mormon faith. It is important for us to be prepared with answers so we may be ready to teach our inquisitive friends and neighbors!
I have compiled a list of 20 popular questions and answers for us to study. They come directly from mormon.org/faq, where you may find many more as well.
Popular Questions and Answers
Are Mormons Christians?
Gordon B. Hinckley, prior President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1995-2008), said:
“We are Christians in a very real sense and that is coming to be more and more widely recognized. Once upon a time people everywhere said we are not Christians. They have come to recognize that we are, and that we have a very vital and dynamic religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ. We, of course, accept Jesus Christ as our Leader, our King, our Savior…the dominant figure in the history of the world, the only perfect Man who ever walked the earth, the living Son of the living God. He is our Savior and our Redeemer through whose atoning sacrifice has come the opportunity of eternal life. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints pray and worship in the name of Jesus Christ. He is the center of our faith and the head of our Church. The Book of Mormon is Another Testament of Jesus Christ and witnesses of His divinity, His life, and His Atonement.”
Why do Mormons perform baptisms for the dead?
Jesus Himself, though without sin, was baptized to fulfill all righteousness and to show the way for all mankind (seeMatthew 3:13-17; 2 Nephi 31:5-12). Thus, baptism is essential for salvation in the kingdom of God. We learn in the New Testament that baptisms for the dead were done during the Apostle Paul’s time (see 1 Corinthians 15:29). This practice has been restored with the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Prophet Joseph Smith first taught about the ordinance of baptism for the dead during a funeral sermon in August 1840. He read much of 1 Corinthians 15, including verse 29, and announced that the Lord would permit Church members to be baptized in behalf of their friends and relatives who had departed this life. He told them “the plan of salvation was calculated to save all who were willing to obey the requirements of the law of God” (Journal History of the Church, 15 Aug. 1840).
Because all who have lived on the earth have not had the opportunity to be baptized by proper authority during life on earth, baptisms may be performed by proxy, meaning a living person may be baptized in behalf of a deceased person. Baptisms for the dead are performed by Church members in temples throughout the world. People have occasionally wondered if the mortal remains of the deceased are somehow disturbed in this process; they are not. The person acting as a proxy uses only the name of the deceased. To prevent duplication the Church keeps a record of the deceased persons who have been baptized. Some have misunderstood that when baptisms for the dead are performed the names of deceased persons are being added to the membership records of the Church. This is not the case.
Why do some call Mormonism a cult?
One definition listed for ‘cult’ in Webster’s Dictionary is “a religion regarded as unorthodox.” Since the roots of Mormonism are not a break off from the Catholic or Protestant churches, it is seen by some as “unorthodox.” For example, the LDS definition of the Godhead differs from the Nicene Creed accepted by most Catholic or Protestant churches. The “cult” label is usually applied by Church opponents attempting to criticize or discredit the Church. However, sometimes it’s simply a matter of characterization that has grown up over time by the lack of understanding. Such misunderstandings often vanish when people begin to realize the commonality of what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints really teaches and believes. That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that He is the Savior and Redeemer of the world whom we love and worship. When people begin to see and recognize these things about Mormons, then their opinion of the Church usually changes, and old beliefs are replaced with new understanding.
What are Mormon women like? Do Mormons believe in equality of men and women?
The Apostle Paul taught that “neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:11). In the sight of God, and in the marriage relationship, men and women are equally important.
By divine design, fathers are to watch over and teach their families in love and righteousness. They are to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers should help one another as equal partners. (Taken from “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”which was written by twelve modern Apostles through inspiration from the Lord.)
Both parents should be involved in the care and discipline of children. It is important to agree on family goals and be willing to work toward them with their children. If parents are not in harmony and do not have mutual respect, the children may become confused and lose confidence in their parents. Both parents should be unified and intimately involved in the upbringing of their children.
What do Mormons believe about the nature of God?
God is perfect, all wise, and all-powerful; the ruler of the universe. He is also merciful, kind, and just. He is our Father in Heaven. We are created in His image (Genesis 1:27). He has a body that looks like ours, but God’s body is immortal, perfected, and has a glory that words can’t describe. Because we are His children, He knows and loves each of us individually. He has a plan to help His children find joy in this life and return to live with Him when this life is over.
What is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ attitude regarding homosexuality and same sex marriage?
In the Bible Paul preached to the Romans that homosexual behavior was sinful (seeRomans 1:24-32). In Old Testament times Moses included in his law that homosexual relations were against God’s law (seeLeviticus 20:13)
Gordon B. Hinckley, prior President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, issued the following statement about homosexuality: “We believe that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. We believe that marriage may be eternal through exercise of the power of the everlasting priesthood in the house of the Lord (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World” which was written by twelve modern Apostles through inspiration from the Lord).
“People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves so-called gays and lesbians. My response is that we love them as sons and daughters of God. They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have inclinations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to the discipline of the Church, just as others are.
“We want to help these people, to strengthen them, to assist them with their problems and to help them with their difficulties. But we cannot stand idle if they indulge in immoral activity, if they try to uphold and defend and live in a so-called same-sex marriage situation. To permit such would be to make light of the very serious and sacred foundation of God-sanctioned marriage and its very purpose, the rearing of families” (Ensign, Nov. 1998, 71).
Do Mormons worship Joseph Smith?
President Gordon B. Hinckley, prior president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made the following statement in 2005 about Joseph Smith:
“We do not worship [Joseph Smith] the Prophet. We worship God our Eternal Father and the risen Lord Jesus Christ. But we acknowledge the Prophet; we proclaim him; we respect him; we reverence him as an instrument in the hands of the Almighty in restoring to the earth the ancient truths of the divine gospel, together with the priesthood through which the authority of God is exercised in the affairs of His Church and for the blessing of His people” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Joseph Smith Jr.—Prophet of God, Mighty Servant,” Ensign, Dec 2005, 2–6).
Do Mormons practice polygamy?
President Gordon B. Hinckley, prior president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made the following statement in 1998 about the Church’s position on plural marriage:
“This Church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing polygamy. They are not members of this Church…. If any of our members are found to be practicing plural marriage, they are excommunicated, the most serious penalty the Church can impose. Not only are those so involved in direct violation of the civil law, they are in violation of the law of this Church.”
At various times, the Lord has commanded His people to practice plural marriage. For example, He gave this command to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and Solomon (Doctrine and Covenants 132:1). At other times the Lord has given other instructions. In the Book of Mormon, the Lord told the prophet Jacob “for there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife: and concubines he shall have none… for if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things (Jacob 2:27-30).
In this dispensation, the Lord commanded some of the early Saints to practice plural marriage. The Prophet Joseph Smith and those closest to him, including Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball, were challenged by this command, but they obeyed it. Church leaders regulated the practice. Those entering into it had to be authorized to do so, and the marriages had to be performed through the sealing power of the priesthood. In 1890, President Wilford Woodruff received a revelation that the leaders of the Church should cease teaching the practice of plural marriage (Official Declaration 1).
The Lord’s law of marriage is monogamy unless he commands otherwise to help establish the House of Israel (see Encyclopedia of Mormonism Vol. 3, pp. 1091-1095).
What is the Church’s position on abortion?
In 1973, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released the following statement regarding abortion, which is still applicable today:
“The Church opposes abortion and counsels its members not to submit to or perform an abortion except in the rare cases where, in the opinion of competent medical counsel, the life or good health of the mother is seriously endangered or where the pregnancy was caused by rape and produces serious emotional trauma in the mother. Even then it should be done only after counseling with the local presiding priesthood authority and after receiving divine confirmation through prayer.”
Are all Mormons required to serve a mission?
There is a strong tradition of missionary service in the Church. The Savior taught, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Church members consider it a privilege to show their love for other people and the Lord by sharing the gospel.
Missionaries generally begin serving when they are from 18 to 21 years old. Many retired seniors, men, women, and married couples also serve missions. Missionaries serve from 18 months to 2 years. Missions are voluntary, and missionaries are not paid for their service. Missionaries come from around the world, and they serve wherever the Church calls them. While serving full-time, missionaries are official representatives of the Church.
What is the Law of Chastity?
The power to create children is very sacred. Our Father in Heaven has commanded that the sacred power and privilege of sexual relations be exercised only between a man and woman who are legally married. This is the law of chastity. It means that we must not have sexual relations before we are married, and after we are married we should have sexual relations only with our husband or wife.
Keeping the law of chastity brings safety, happiness, peace, and self-respect. It also deepens married love and protects families. Breaking this law is serious. But those who have broken it can gain forgiveness and peace through repentance and obedience.
God wants the best for you and for all of His children. Following God’s plan of reserving intimacy for marriage will help you and your family be happy.
Does The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints endorse political parties?
The Church has made the following public statement on multiple occasions prior to major elections: “Principles compatible with the gospel are found in the platforms of all major political parties. While the Church does not endorse political candidates, platforms, or parties, members are urged to be full participants in political, governmental, and community affairs.”
Do Mormons regard the Bible as Holy Scripture and the word of God?
Mormons believe, revere and love the Holy Bible. We see it as a powerful, important, and sacred holy record which serves as the bedrock of all Christianity. The Bible is rich in history, doctrine, stories, sermons and testimonies, all of which witness that Jesus Christ is the Divine Son of our Heavenly Father. The Bible is the word of God and came from the writings of holy men of God as they were moved upon by the Holy Ghost (see 2 Peter 1:20-21). Through the same process we have additional Holy Scripture, including the Book of Mormon, which supports and exalts the Bible.
Why don’t women hold the priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? How do Mormon women lead in the Church?
Gordon B. Hinckley, prior President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said:
“Women do not hold the priesthood because the Lord has put it that way. It is part of His program. Women have a very prominent place in this Church. Men hold the priesthood offices of the Church. But women have a tremendous place in this Church. They have their own organization. It was started in 1842 by the Prophet Joseph Smith, called the Relief Society, because its initial purpose was to administer help to those in need. It has grown to be, I think, the largest women’s organization in the world… They have their own offices, their own presidency, their own board. That reaches down to the smallest unit of the Church everywhere in the world…
“The men hold the priesthood, yes. But my wife is my companion. In this Church the man neither walks ahead of his wife nor behind his wife but at her side. They are co-equals in this life in a great enterprise.”
Are there restrictions based on race or color concerning who can join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and have the priesthood?
There are no race or color restrictions as to who can join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There are also no race or color restrictions as to who can have the priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
An official declaration of the Church states, “every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood, with power to exercise its divine authority, and enjoy with his loved ones every blessing that flows therefrom, including the blessings of the temple. Accordingly, all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color.”
(Doctrine and Covenants, Official Declaration – 2, 294).
Gordon B. Hinckley, prior President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, reaffirmed this principle when speaking to the National Press Club in Washington D.C.: “We believe in the old adage that many hands make light work. We have a lay priesthood, and every worthy man is eligible to receive this priesthood.”
Why are only some Mormons allowed into temples? Is there something secret going on in Mormon Temples? What goes on in Mormon Temples?
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has more than 100 operating temples around the world. Visitors are welcome to visit the temple grounds at all of these temples and attend open houses prior to dedication. However, only baptized members who are qualified and prepared are allowed to enter a temple after it is dedicated.
In temples, Church members participate in ordinances designed to unite their families together forever and help them return to God. In the temple, members: 1. Learn eternal truths. 2. Receive sacred ordinances, including those that bind husband and wife together for eternity, as well as join children and parents (Malachi 4:5-6). 3. Provide ordinances such as baptism for those who have died without the opportunity to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:29; 1 Peter 4:6)
What is done with the tithing that Mormons pay?
The principle of tithing, or voluntarily giving one tenth of one’s income to God’s work, has been known since Old Testament times. Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek (Genesis 14:17-20).
The law of tithing is how the Lord funds His Church. Today all faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints contribute one tenth of their income as tithing. Tithing funds are used for:
- Constructing temples, chapels, and other buildings.
- Providing operating funds for the Church.
- Funding the missionary program (This does not include individual missionary expenses.)
- Preparing materials used in Church classes and organizations.
- Temple work, family history, and many other important Church functions.
When the Lord reminded His people of this law through the prophet Malachi in the Old Testament, He promised to bless those who were willing to pay an honest tithe (Malachi 3:10).
Why was a Restoration of the Gospel needed? Haven’t we always had the Bible?
When Jesus Christ lived on the earth, He established His Church. After His Ascension into heaven, His Apostles carried on His work under His direction, through revelation and with His priesthood authority.
After the Apostles and many righteous Church members were killed and other members departed from the truth, the Lord took the priesthood authority and His Church from the earth. Without God’s priesthood authority, the Church no longer functioned as Christ had established it. The ordinances were changed and many plain and simple truths were lost. While many good people and some truth remained, the original Church was lost.
The Apostles prophesied of the falling away or Apostasy. One example is Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3).
The Apostle Peter prophesied of the “restitution of all things” before Christ’s Second Coming (Acts 3:19-21). Having been lost because of the Apostasy, Christ’s Church and His authority were to be restored to the earth. This Restoration would make available the opportunity for all to receive once again all of the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Joseph Smith’s First Vision marked the beginning of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth. In subsequent years, Christ restored His priesthood and reorganized His Church. He has continued to reveal truths to His prophets and to restore the blessings that were taken from the earth for a time.
What do Mormons believe happens to us after we die? What do Mormons believe about life after death?
Death is not the end. Death is really a beginning—another step forward in Heavenly Father’s plan for His children. Someday, like everyone else, your physical body will die. But your spirit does not die, it goes to the spirit world, where you will continue to learn and progress and may be with loved ones who have passed on.
Death is a necessary step in your progression, just as your birth was. Sometime after your death, your spirit and your body will be reunited—never to be separated again. This is called resurrection, and it was made possible by the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 15:20-22).
What is Mormonism? OR What do Mormons believe?
When Jesus Christ lived on the earth, He organized His Church so that all people could receive His gospel and return one day to live with God, our Heavenly Father. After Jesus Christ died, was resurrected and ascended to heaven, His Apostles continued to receive revelation from Him through the Holy Ghost on how to direct the work of His Church. However, after they were killed, members changed the teachings of the Church that He had established. While many good people and some truth remained, this Apostasy, or general falling away from the truth, brought about the withdrawal of the Church from the earth (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3; Acts 20:29-30). The Apostle Peter prophesied that Jesus would restore His Church before His Second Coming (Acts 3:19-21).
Jesus Christ began to restore His Church in its fulness to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1820. It has grown to become a worldwide Church with over 13 million members. It has the same teachings and basic organization as the Church established by Jesus in New Testament times.
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