Friday, December 07, 2007
For my bachelor's degree, I attended a small communications school in Boston called Emerson College, where I was sometimes the only Mormon. Recently, the alumni magazine asked for my input for an article about "alumni who do intriguing work." Here's their question and what I sent them in response:
Q: In light of Mitt Romney running for president, name three things that non-Mormons do not understand about Mormons.
Many people think Mormons aren't Christian, but it depends on what your definition of "Christian" is. If you mean simply a believer in Christ, then Mormons are definitely Christian. If you mean a member of a mainstream Christian denomination, then no, Mormons have too many theological differences. In fact, Mormons believe our church is the restoration of pure Bible Christianity and is led today by Christ through revelation to Mormon prophets, while other Christian churches are led through human interpretations of history and scripture.
Mormons believe life's great secret is that humans can literally grow up to become like their spiritual father, God. We see life as a test to see who will exercise faith in God, discover his complete truth, and obey his commandments. For those who succeed at the highest levels with help from the Savior, there's no limit on what God can grant them, including the opportunity to eventually become spiritual parents and planetary creators themselves. This sounds blasphemous to some, but Mormons think it's almost blasphemous to say that God goes to all this trouble and puts his children through all this testing just so the righteous can strum harps on clouds and sing praises to him for eternity.
Mormons are more liberal and progressive than many people expect. We don't condone sex outside of marriage, but we celebrate its bonding role in marriage beyond procreation, and many of us practice family planning through birth control—in fact, we even tolerate abortion in cases of rape, incest, or threat to the mother's life. Mormons believe in the Bible, but we aren't literal creationists—many Mormons believe that the six "days" God took to create the earth could refer to six creative periods that lasted for the equivalent of millions of today's earth years. Mormons can also be surprisingly progressive about modern issues such as stem cell research, mixed-race adoption and marriage, uses of science and technology, and others.