Friday, October 28, 2022

Part 3 of Debunking "30 Bizarre Mormon Rules You Won’t Believe Are Real"

In Part 1 of Debunking "30 Bizarre Mormon Rules You Won’t Believe Are Real", I covered the first five of thirty different false narratives about members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and our beliefs. If you're jumping into this current post from a search engine result, I recommend reading at least the first part of Part 1 for better context before continuing. I'll wait here. 😁

All done? Let's get cracking with these next five, shall we?

A group of youth sitting in a circle in a yard and playing games together.
A group of Latter-day Saint youth sitting in a circle in a yard and playing games together.

11. Same Sex Relationships?

Church leaders in the Mormon faith believe the Bible’s teachings that romantic relationships can only be ordained by the Lord if they are between a man and a woman. They are not allowed to engage in same-sex ‘liaisons’ so that must mean a large number of gay people have to live a lie or go behind the Church’s back – how sad in this day and age.

First, some clarity on the Law of Chastity, which is where our boundaries on this matter come from. If you need a primer on the Law of Chastity, see Part 1 and also "Chastity" in the Church's scriptural topic library.

Until extremely recently (relative to all of human history) this question has never been up for serious debate in all of the history of the Abrahamic faiths. Historically, not one single instance of gay marriage or even civil unions has ever been sanctioned, or recorded as sanctioned, in Jewish, Christian, or Islamic scripture. Other religions, maybe. Animal kingdom sexual relationships, yes. But those exceptions do not do away with the rule God made for all of humanity. His laws don't cease to exist merely because humans break them. And that is all outside the scope of this question anyways.

The Law of Chastity has not changed for us in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1995, quite before the present-day tumult about same-sex relationships and gender identity, the First Presidency issued "The Family: A Proclamation to the World". 

It states firmly, in part, that "We...solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God" and "the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife."

The language on this is crystal clear with no room for equivocation along the lines of making new marriage arrangements outside of heterosexual marriage. Quoting the Proclamation:

The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.

All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.


We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

Strong words.

People both inside and outside of the Church rebel against this age-old notion of the traditional nuclear family. In fortunate democratically-structured nations, they have that right and we are NOT advocating for any kind of man-made theocracy that formally forces people to only participate in heterosexual unions. We believe only God will rule theocratically in His own way, and that still respects free will, when Christ comes to personally reign on the Earth again. 

Therefore, we recognize the boundaries between the religious, spiritual world we choose to inhabit and the secular, political world we are forced to inhabit. And though we try to respect those boundaries, we are also within our rights as citizens of the nations we live in to have opinions and to express those opinions at the ballot box and through free speech in the "town square" just like anyone else. Those who are agitating for us to be silenced are playing with a kind of censorious fire that sometime in the future may be turned to burn them as well.

Now, about "gay people have to live a lie". That's simply untrue. Everyone who wants to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can do so. Gay people are welcome at church. We love them and want them to be with us. Our General Handbook states:

God’s commandments forbid all unchaste behavior, either heterosexual or same-sex. Church leaders counsel members who have violated the law of chastity. Leaders help them have a clear understanding of faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, the process of repentance, and the purpose of life on earth. Behavior that is inconsistent with the law of chastity may be cause for holding a Church membership council (see 38.6.5). It can be forgiven through sincere repentance.

If members feel same-sex attraction and are striving to live the law of chastity, leaders support and encourage them in their resolve. These members may receive Church callings, have temple recommends, and receive temple ordinances if they are worthy. Male Church members may receive and exercise the priesthood.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks also taught:

We seek to persuade our members that those who follow lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender teachings and actions should be treated with the love our Savior commands us to show toward all our neighbors. Thus, when same-sex marriage was declared legal in the United States, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve declared: “The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to love and treat all people with kindness and civility—even when we disagree. We affirm that those who avail themselves of laws or court rulings authorizing same-sex marriage should not be treated disrespectfully.”

Further, we must never persecute those who do not share our beliefs and commitments. Regretfully, some persons facing these issues continue to feel marginalized and rejected by some members and leaders in our families, wards, and stakes. We must all strive to be kinder and more civil. 

But the ancient and eternal Law of Chastity, as well as the clarifying "The Family: A Proclamation to the World", both remain in effect. Our clergy will not perform gay weddings in our chapels or temples. They are simply not authorized by God to do so and would be acting against their authority if they did, making it of no effect eternally. To force them to do it by law would violate First Amendment conscience rights under the United States Constitution and similar laws and rights in other nations.

Additionally, there will necessarily be a conversation between the priesthood leaders and any member who intentionally attempts to draw away other members with any teaching that opposes God's laws about marriage and family. That conversation can result in the person repenting and no longer working against God's laws, or it can end in that person deciding to part from us and pursue whatever path they wish. 

Nobody is forcing anyone to come to church. If any member no longer desires to be governed by God or His laws as we understand them, they are free to leave and be governed by whatever other laws they wish. We simply ask that we be respected in staying and following what we believe God has taught.

This topic is too vast to cover here. To understand more, see:

Now on to something a little less complex. Food storage.

12. Stock Up
One of the more unusual, some would say bizarre, rules in this faith is that a family should stock up with 3 months’ worth of food in case any untold emergency happens to be thrust upon them. Broken down, this adds up to an extremely large pantry and freezer as well as 48 packets of Haribos (or is that just me?)
I'm always puzzled as to why preparing for the future really trips people up about us. Or even outside of the context of the Church. In times past, it was considered common sense to stash away a little food, drinking water, money, and other resources "for a rainy day". There was nothing controversial about it.

But for some reason, when we do it, it's weird. It could be that people associate "religious people" doing any sort of preparedness (prepping) or even basic self-sufficiency with what they've seen in the media about extremist doomsday cults and even militias. Some even consider it "selfish" and "hoarding". Sure, there are always some people who take it too far. That's true for every human endeavor. But everything we do is pretty tame, common sense stuff. 

Our Church welfare system is the envy of nations. When leaders of other countries are given tours of our food and goods processing and shipping facilities, they always come away amazed and ask for information on how they can replicate such a system for their own people.

Three months of food and supplies don't really add up to "an extremely large pantry and freezer". The author of the post must be confusing that with those of us who decide to stock up for a year or two. In those cases, yes, the pantry has to be enlarged and we typically add another or larger freezer.

Haribos are pretty gross. Not sure why anyone would want that in food storage, except maybe as a laxative. Just my personal opinion. 
13. Under-Clothing

After going through the temple, Mormons have to wear special under-clothing which are known as ‘garments’. They are usually made from silk or cotton and are a reminder to be honest, virtuous, pure, chaste and to keep the Commandments. It is a myth (thank goodness) that they protect the wearer from evil and harm).

Always this fascination with our underwear! Ok, it's pretty simple. People of other faiths wear special or symbolic clothing on the outside as a reminder of what they believe or the promises they've made to God. We just happen to wear ours under our clothing. What's the big deal?
14. Tattoos

These are strictly forbidden if you are of the Mormon faith. Not even a butterfly on your bum or your parents’ initials on your wrist is allowed. The reasoning is because the body will no longer be pure. The few brave soldiers who go against their religion’s wishes, with a full sleeve, are ordered to have the ink removed by laser.
No, not strictly forbidden. That makes it sound like, again, we have police running around pulling up people's sleeves and looking for "renegade ink". Nobody is ever "ordered to have the ink removed by laser" by any church official. Maybe some parents get really upset about a teen getting ink without permission and take them to have it removed, but that's a personal family matter the Church doesn't get involved with at all. 

The basis for this accusation stems from a couple of talks given in two of our General Conference sessions years ago by the late President Gordon B. Hinckley. Taken in the context of what was once considered "normal" (relatively few people engaging in extreme tattooing and piercing), his remarks and cautions made perfect sense both to him and to the majority of mothers and fathers he was addressing, as well as the youth listening to each of those talks.

Yes, times have changed. It seems like everyone in this world has a tattoo or is planning on getting one. At least one beloved and now-prominent member of our Church, Al Carraway, who has many tattoos (obtained prior to joining our faith) has built a social media presence, has written books, and has a speaking circuit talking about her faith journey. Many, many other LDS folks, both lifers and converts, have tattoos. They're still members in good standing. As are our beloved Tongan/Maori and other non-Western members who were tattooed as a result of living in their respective cultures which include tattooing as a rite of passage.

Nobody is chasing them down, tying them up, and forcing them to have laser tattoo removals.
15. Sundays

Forget about heading out to the garden centre for a Begonia plant or meeting up with friends for Sunday lunch and a giant Yorkshire pudding. Sunday is Church day for Mormons and a day of reflecting. That means no tv, no radio, no shopping and not doing anything that might be seen as enjoyment.
Again, there is no Mormon Police force checking up on members about this. Do we hold Sundays, our sabbath, as something to be honored? Absolutely. There are suggested things we are counseled to do and not to do. The main ones are avoiding working or shopping. But we're also not absolutists about what people do or don't do. 

Growing up in my family, we regularly took Sunday drives and stopped to eat at a restaurant along the way. Sometimes, on a three-day holiday weekend, we'd travel further, go to events on Sundays as part of the trip, and return home. Lots of other folks in my small, mostly LDS town went hunting, played sports, traveled, etc. None of us were excommunicated for doing so.

As I said earlier, we were counseled against it, though. That's a whole different thing than what the article writer implies. God wants us to treat the Sabbath as holy. That hasn't changed in the Ten Commandments since ancient times. For Jewish people, that's Saturday. For us, generally, and for most Christians, it's Sunday. But He lets us choose what we'll do. And when we choose properly, we are blessed for it.

Time to end this post, but there's more in Part 4!

No comments:

Post a Comment

We are happy to discuss any and every topic and question. We will give wide berth to a variety of opinions and ideas. The only thing we ask is that you return the favor by respecting our right to believe as we do and by not issuing lengthy, inflammatory diatribes meant to shock and confuse anyone not familiar with LDS teachings. They can certainly get that elsewhere. :)