Questions of Faith, Part VI.V

Thanks to Clay for such a complete picture of his faith, and to everyone who responded with questions - keep 'em coming!. Clay's answers were a bit too long for the comment window, so they are posted here - the questions that spawned these answers can be found in the comment window for his original post.


In response to Linus:
Wow, so many questions already. Yell at me if I forget any...

I believe people calling us Mormons came about simply because Joseph Smith introduced this radical new concept (a religious text beyond the Bible?! Blasphemy!) to America in the form of the Book of Mormon. They quickly latched on to one of our more distinguishing features that they knew of and associated us with it.

Yes we still have family home evening--a night set aside to spend with family, sharing spiritual thoughts and having food and fun.

Proxy baptism: Because those of us that have died may still want to accept the ordinances of the gospel (remember, we think the other dead have ministries among them), but have no bodies to do so (it's hard to immerse the body if you don't currently have one), we stand in for them and have the ordinances performed in their names. This is why Mormons find genealogy so important. When we exhaust the list of names (not gonna’ happen for a long time), we believe that the books of life and death will be opened and we'll have access to the names of those humans that were forgotten by time. We also do other proxy ordinances. All of them happen in the temple (we currently have over 100 temples worldwide). This is one of the more controversial practices of the LDS faith, but we stand by it.

The special undergarments are inscribed with holy symbols that remind us of certain religious principals. Any LDS person who has gone to the temple and gotten their endowments (a religious ceremony) should be wearing them. There is a top shirt and a bottom set of well... boxers is the only word I can think of that works. Not especially sexy, but that's not the point. So more than just missionaries wear them, girls wear them too (thought of a different cut of course), and I wear them myself. And yes, you can change them :P

In response to Mandy:
None of the clergy positions for the church are paid; they are all volunteers (though the church does hire people for non-clergy positions, such as church psychologists etc.). Therefore, all these men are doing their priesthood duties in their spare time, and believe me, that's a lot. The responsibilities of a bishop alone (care for and constantly talk to 200+ members, interview people to check for temple readiness, assign positions within the ward, organize the talks each Sunday, receive and interview for tithing, decide how to disperse church welfare, just to name a few) are daunting. And then you have the more holy stuff. For instance, if Ms. Shermiester the old widow falls and breaks her hip, the bishops gonna’ make a visit and give her a blessing to get better. So you can start to see how all of this is burden.

That's not to say that women don't have power and responsibility within the church. Women are in charge of the relief society (an all female, LDS organization), and the children's Sunday school program. Women even wield the power of the priesthood during certain rituals within the temple. In addition, while women may not typically have the priesthood in their everyday lives if they don't have access to a man that has it, they do have the right to pray for the things that we believe a priesthood blessing could provide. For instance, there is a famous story of how Joseph Smith's widow was on her way west when her Ox fell ill. Reputedly, she prayed for the health of the Ox, and it immediately sprang up.

But I won't pussyfoot around the issue that I think you're really concerned about, Mandy. The treatment of women in the church is highly criticized both from within and without. LDS leaders keep emphasizing that motherhood is a sacred duty, and as you can imagine in today’s political climate that irks some people. I can only weigh in on the issue by saying that I hope at least one parent stays home to raise the kids, and I'm glad that in my case it was my mom. Also of concern is the issue of the Heavenly Mother. We don't pray to Her, and the official reason is because She is incredibly sacred, but there are feminists within the church that want to pray to her and get women more of the priesthood pie.

Now Julie:
If Eve had never broken the rule and eaten that little apple, not only would she and Adam have never changed (i.e. become mortals capable of reproduction--LDS concepts here), but the concept of repentance (an essential component to Jesus' plan of free will mentioned earlier) would never have a reason for being. In other words, Eve started the world going by transgressing (yes you have to repent for transgressing). The whole serpent-tempting thing still happened, but Lucifer didn't really conceive that he was playing right into God's plan. Also, there is no doubt some symbolism going on in this whole story.

So anyways, Eve started the world going by using her brain and realizing what had to be done, and for that she is a hero. Also of importance is that the LDS faith rejects the concept of original sin; we are not born in sin, nor are we bound by Eve or Adam's transgression. Of course, we don't stay sinless for long, and that is where redemption comes in. See how it all comes together?

I think that's everyone for this round.


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