30 Day Challenge: Day 4 – Your views on Religion

Well, this is an incredibly loaded topic if there ever was one, but  I’ll try to explain my views on religion as best as I can.

As for me, I am a practicing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (you know, the Mormons).  You might have heard of my religion lately with Mitt Romney running for president and all.

I guess I could explain the LDS faith’s religious beliefs but I figured you’d find a much better explanation (and straight from the horses’s mouth) if you checked out lds.org.

When it comes to the LDS faith I have always felt like I had my foot in two worlds.  My mother was raised LDS while my father and his family converted to the Seventh Day Adventist religion when he was young.  Neither of my parents were active in their respective religions when I was born.  My mother did insist that her children be given a name and a blessing in the LDS church, so our names ended up on the LDS church rolls.  My older sister started going to church with a neighbor, and I had to do everything my cool older sister did, so I started attending church with her.  My mom decided to become re-activated in the church when I was in about the 8th grade, so up until I was 13 years old my siblings and I attended church without our parents.

When I say I feel like I’ve always had my foot in two different worlds it’s because I wasn’t raised in a typical LDS home with an LDS upbringing.  And I’m not a convert because I was baptized at age 8 when most children are baptized into the church.  Growing up, because my parents didn’t go to church and we didn’t to the typical things LDS families do (Family Home Evening, family scripture study and prayer, priesthood/father blessings), I was not Mormon enough for the Mormon kids, and I was too Mormon for the non-Mormons kids because I went to church.  So, I felt like I never belonged in either group.

Some parents would not let their children play with me because my parents didn’t attend church.  I don’t know what they thought my parents would do, like my parents were really going to be giving alcohol and showing children rated R movies, but I got the message loud and clear from some families:  my family was not good enough.  However, there were a couple of really good families in my ward (a Mormon congregation based on geography) growing up who loved and accepted my family without question.  We had a some really good Bishops (a lay leader of a Mormon congregation) growing up, but the man who was the Bishop when I was a teenager was the most influential.  When my dad asked to go on a River Rafting trip with the youth, this Bishop was thrilled to have an adult who actually wanted to be a leader.  It was on these yearly trips that my Dad became friends with this Bishop and the Young Men’s President, who happened to be my dear friend, Scott’s, father.  These men loved and accepted my father for who he was and never tried to convert him.  They were his friend regardless.  That always meant so much to me.

CTR is Mormon speak for “Choose the Right”

There were also two very special women who were my mother’s visiting teachers (a program where two women are assigned families they visit each month to give a lesson or help with anything the family needs) who visited her regularly and were her friends.  It is because of their friendship my mother felt comfortable going back to church.  My mother also had a husband and wife home teaching team that visited her regularly for years (after us kids had left) who still continued to visit my father after my mom had passed until he moved away.  I always appreciated them looking out for him even though their official church assignment was over.

As far as my particular beliefs go, I consider myself a Christian.  I am a follower of Jesus Christ.  I try to be a true Christian, one that loves their  neighbor, serves others, takes care of the poor and the weak, and is accepting of everyone.  Whether or not I’m filled with perfect Christ-like love every day is a different story.  There’s an LDS children’s song called, “I’m trying to be like Jesus,” and I guess that’s how you would describe me.  I’m trying to be like Jesus.  Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail.  But I’m always trying.

As a member of the LDS church I believe that families are forever.  This means I believe in an after-life/ heaven, and that I will be reunited with my loved ones one day and get to live with them forever.  This belief gives me a lot of comfort on days when I’m missing my mother terribly.  After she had stopped breathing and her heart stopped, I went into her bedroom and knelt beside her to say goodbye and in that moment I felt a burning testimony in my heart that this was not goodbye and I would be with her again.  I believe that my marriage is eternal and that I will be married to my husband in the after-life as well.  To some people that might not be appealing, but I got the best husband there is, so I find this belief comforting.  I believe that Joseph Smith restored the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth.  I believe The Book of Mormon to be directly from God and another work of scripture that is another testament of Jesus Christ.  And yes, I wear the funny underwear.

My religious views are largely shaped by my LDS faith, but also the moral upbringing my parents gave me.  My political beliefs tend to swing far left of most LDS folks, and that’s okay.  I pretty much have a live and let live philosophy for everyone else.  I don’t care what religion or political party you do or don’t belong to, if you’re a good person, we’re going to get along.  I think it comes from being in a family with a lot of diverse religious faiths and a lot of diversity of thought.  They say you should never discuss religion or politics in polite company, but I think that if everyone can remain polite, it’s actually fun.  I like discussing other peoples beliefs and learning the history of why they believe certain ways.  To some it might feel threatening, but to me it feels enlightening to know about other faiths and beliefs out there.

When I say that my political views inform my faith, I mean that I believe that we as a society have a duty to take care of children, the sick and afflicted, poor, indigent, disabled, homeless, etc, just like my Savior commanded me to.  My parents taught me to treat everyone respectfully and they did this through their actions.  They spoke to me about prejudice and how that it was not okay in our family to discriminate against others because of their race, sex, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, etc.  As a child I tried to always be nice to everyone (even if that put a big bully target on my back), and I always befriended the new kid.  And it’s a good thing I did because one year the new kid turned out to become one of my life-long besties.  I’ve always been a champion of the underdog and I think that’s one of the big reasons I got into social work.

The Salt Lake City Temple at night

So, let’s see what else do you want to know?  My views on Religion are that it doesn’t matter what religion you belong to if it makes you a better person.  I have friends who are Buddhist, Unitarian Universalist, Born-Again Christian, all manner of Protestant religions, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu, and it doesn’t matter to me what religion they belong to as long as they are a good person.  I also have friends who are Atheist or Agnostic, and again, I don’t care what they do or do not believe as long as they are a good person.  Like I said, I’m a live and let live kind of person.  I’m also a Spirit of the Law kind of gal rather than the Letter of the Law kind of gal.  I believe that Jesus fulfilled the Law of Moses with his ministry on earth and there’s no sense of me obeying a bunch of arbitrary rules for appearances sake that will have no bearing on if I actually get to heaven or not.  I would like to believe that this is because I’m more of a spiritual person than a dogmatic religious person, but really I’m just stubborn and only do what I want to do.

Are we done yet?  This was seriously a hard topic to write about.  I think I’m sweating a little.  My old Spanish professor used to ask us at the end of every class, “Preguntas?  Problemas?”  So I ask it of you, if you have any questions or problems, ask me.  Just a warning though, I will refuse to publish any incendiary comments regarding mine or anyone else’s religion.

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5 thoughts on “30 Day Challenge: Day 4 – Your views on Religion

  1. I think you covered that pretty well. Although our backgrounds are different I experienced some similar things as far as being treated well by some who were good people and being judged by some. Right after I converted to the LDS Faith I tried dating and had a lot of parents make their daugters stop dating me because I had never went on a mission. Heck I was just a fresh Mormon and a mission just wasn't in teh cards for me. Luckily I finally met the right family who accpeted me for who I was. I think the judging issue is not exclusive to any relegion. There are people or all faiths who judge and people of all faiths who don't.Great blog Marisa!

  2. Very Beautifully explained!!!!! It is sad when people can't look beyond their own noses to see that all good in the world comes in many packages. Religion, Race, and Gender are not a true view of someones heart; and it is the heart that matters. Love is far more important then people realize!!!

  3. We were very lucky to have some lovely people and families in our ward growing up. I have a whole subgroup of friends on fb that I call "Uintah Third Ward". The people you mentioned (plus several others) were such examples of what being a "good person" means. I remember when Dr C and I got married, one of those wonderful couples you mentioned gave us a card which wished us as much happiness in our marriage as they had in theirs. And I thought that was the best wish they could have for us – and I'm pretty sure it has come true. 😀

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