I have been debating about blogging on this subject all weekend. At first I decided not to broach the subject. I have been afraid of offending my friends; of putting in writing thoughts on a subject so personal that an idea or thought not carefully phrased and analyzed from various angles could be taken out of context and viewed as belittling or insulting. I have wanted West of Zion to be about my experiences as a mother and wife living life in one of the most amazing and beautiful areas on earth and do it in a way that I hope will appeal to others, but as I awoke this morning two thoughts came strongly to my mind and provided me with a change of heart.
First I am very passionate about the topic. Not in the "I think everyone should join the LDS Church to be saved" way, but I am passionate that anytime a label is used to discriminate or alienate an individual or group of individuals, it is wrong.
I understand that the doctrine of the Godhead taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) is different from the traditionally held view of the Trinity. While to most mainstream Christian faiths the Trinity is one God in three forms, LDS doctrine teaches that the Godhead is composed of three distinct individuals - God the Father; His son Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost or Holy Comforter. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. (1st Article of Faith) It is this difference in belief that has led many today to view the LDS faith as not being a Christian religion.
Christ taught Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matt.7:20) I have many friends of other denominations and we are all trying to be true disciples of Christ as we live our lives. This summer they sent their children on missions with the goal of providing service and bringing the light of Christ into the lives of those willing to listen. I prayed for the safety and success of their children just as I know they prayed for my son as he served a mission for the LDS Church.
There is so much darkness in the world today. It is only the light of Christ that can prevent the forces of hate and contention from overwhelming us. My son said that he felt his mission was to bring the knowledge of Christ to people and to help them change their lives. If they chose to be baptized, that was their personal choice, but he wanted them to know that Jesus is the Christ and had atoned for their sins that they may be saved and that they were loved unconditionally.
While my son was in Montana, that state faced some of the worst flooding in years. A call was sent out asking for volunteers to come help sandbag and clean areas that had been flooded. The young men and women serving in Billings Montana Mission responded to the call. They did not stop and ask for religious affiliation before rendering aid. They just pitched in and worked.
This is the way it has always been. When there is disaster or people are in need of assistance, the LDS Church is quick to respond. I have spent many hours sewing nightgowns for newborn kits, assembling personal hygiene kits and canning food at the local LDS cannery. All these items are distributed regardless of race, creed or color to those in need.
When our home burned down, our family was almost overwhelmed with the outpouring of love, support and aide we received. This service did not just come from our brothers and sisters in the LDS Church, but from members of all sects in our community.
Jesus Christ was not a respector of persons. He did not differentiate between the Samaritan or the Jew, the priest or the sinner. His love was for all mankind and it is my belief that as followers of Christ, it is our responsibility to act the same. This country was founded on the principle of freedom of religion; the idea that a man should be judged by his heart and his actions, not how he worshipped.
The second reason I felt compelled to write this entry is that I do not want to appear ashamed of my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The Apostle Paul wrote: For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; ... (Romans 1:16)
I have been a member of this Church all my life. When I was born, my parents took me before our congregation in Ogden to give me a name and blessing. When I was eight years old, I was baptized and blessed that I could have the Holy Ghost as my constant companion if I lived worthy. I have married my dear, sweet, amazing husband in the Temple of Lord, not just till death do us part, but for all eternity. I know that through the Atonement of Christ, my sins can be forgiven if I repent, I will be resurrected and I can be with my family for eternity. This knowledge has carried me through some of the darkest days and hardest trials of my life.
I come from a long line of Mormons. My ancestors knew Joseph Smith and were driven from their homes time and again because of their faith, until they reached the safety of the Salt Lake Valley. They did not suffer this persecution and hardship to follow a man, but to follow Jesus Christ.
Discipleship to Jesus Christ is central to the LDS faith. He has marked the path that we are to follow. This is what I teach my children. This is how I live my life. I strive daily to be a Christian, to be Christ-like. Come follow me, the Savior said. I choose to follow.