So I felt like it was time to personally defend my religion. Though many who read this are probably Mormon themselves, I hope this reaches out to someone who will feel a little more enlightened about what my church is really about.
For starters, the official name of my church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
History: Our church first began, of course, when Christ was on the earth. However, because of the evil of the world, the church was gone from the earth for a very long time. We call this time in our world's history the apostasy. In 1820, a young man named Joseph Smith, was conflicted as to which church he should join. In the western part of New York in the early 1800's there was a lot of religious fervor and oftentimes conflicts arose because each church would try hard to gain support. So Joseph Smith, then 14 years old, decided to pray to God for help in deciding which church to join. He read in the book of James, chapter 1, verse 5: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him"
After reading this, he prayed and God and Jesus Christ appeared to him and told him that he must not join any of the churches, for he must restore Jesus Christ's church to the earth. And that is exactly what he did. We believe Joseph Smith was a righteous prophet who translated the Book of Mormon (I'll talk about this later) and restored Christ's church in these modern times.
Books: We follow the Old Testament, the New Testament and The Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is a book of ancient teachings that were buried by Mormon during the Apostasy. God gave Joseph Smith the knowledge and authority to find these records and translate them into English.
The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ and contains valuable teachings and commandments of God.
The Godhead: We believe in ONE GOD. We believe He sent His chosen son, Jesus Christ. to earth to teach and to save all mankind. We also believe in the Holy Ghost, which is what we feel when we are being prompted to doing something good, or if we are being warned. These three beings are separate beings and they make up what we call the Godhead: Heavenly Father (God), Jesus Christ, and The Holy Ghost.
WE ARE CHRISTIANS: Many believe Mormons are not Christians because we view God and Christ as separate beings... but this is not true. We worship Christ as the Savior of mankind and that He died so that we could be saved if only we repent of our sins. We call this The Atonement. Christ was sent to earth by God to save us from sin. He suffered by taking every sin known to man upon himself and then was betrayed and killed. He then rose from the grave 3 days later, conquering death, and setting a precedent by which we could now follow. We are able to be resurrected from the dead and since he took upon himself the pain of our sins, we are able to be forgiven and can return to God in heaven. Christ was a sinless, wonderful Savior who taught to love God and to love our neighbors.
Missionaries: when a young man turns 19, he becomes eligible to serve a mission. If he is ready and worthy, he sacrifices his time, family, everything, to serve the Lord and teach our gospel to those who will listen. He spends two years away from home (he gets called by our Prophet to serve) in one area anywhere in the world. They work in companionships, so that's why there's always two of them... girls also can serve missions, but not until their 21 (i think its for safety reasons), and only for 1.5 years. For boys, it is a commandment to serve a mission, for girls it is optional, but always encouraged.
Now, these boys are normal and wonderful people. Before you bash on them, try to remember that they gave up two years they could be attending school, being with family, etc. to teach people about our Gospel. This seems like a huge bill, and it really is, but it becomes an easy decision to make because of their wonderful testimonies and desire to share God's word with those who may be searching for it. Try and remember these boys' families, who wait anxiously for a letter each week from their son to be assured that they are safe and happy. These boys don't wish to harm anyone or denounce anyone else's beliefs, they are just faithful men who wish to teach our Gospel to help build our church. We love our gospel so much that we want others to find the same happiness.
Prophets: We believe God chooses a faithful servant on the earth to lead our church. It began with Peter in the time Christ was on the earth. We believe there is a prophet on the earth now. His name is Thomas S. Monson. He has been sustained by every member, and has been called of God to teach and lead us along with his counselors and other church leaders. There is a first and second counselor that help the prophet, and then there are 12 apostles. Twice every year, we get to hear from these men and other church leaders and be enlightened and instructed by them. This called our conference. It's held live in Salt Lake City Utah. We believe these men carry the responsibility of teaching us modern doctrine.
Modern teachings and misconceptions: There are many things our church and other churches did anciently that are not done now. For example, WE DO NOT PRACTICE POLYGAMY. That was a commandment given to our church when it was first restored in order to build our church. Since then, it has been disbanded because it is not consistent with modern times. This is also seen through the doctrine of sacrifice. In ancient times, many people (not just christians) would sacrifice animals for God. This is not needed anymore, because God adapts his commandments to the time it is to be followed. God is constant, and his commands never change, but there are adaptations made so that they fit the modern world. Animal sacrifice was to teach people in ancient times the principle of sacrifice. Now, we are sometimes asked to sacrifice our time, money, love, etc. for His sake. This shows how some commandments are adapted to fit modern life.
The Don'ts: As many of you have probably noticed, we don't drink alcohol, coffee, or tea. We don't smoke, swear, and we don't have sex before marriage. There's a lot of joking in the media about a lot of these, but I promise these little "don'ts" have really blessed my life. And if you know any mormon that has done any of these things (I know many myself...), they are not following the teachings of our church. Please don't judge our religion based on those who don't practice what they preach. Our religion has been distorted that way.
Regarding sexuality: I am not going to say much about this because it is such a controversial topic, but I will say a couple things regarding the matter. We believe God ordained marriage to be between one man and one woman. I follow this belief. However, we are also taught it is not our place to judge others and we are taught to love EVERYONE. I am personally very disappointed with church members who disregard these commandments.
My experience: This gospel brings me true happiness. I will never be able to deny that. I believe in everything taught in this wonderful gospel. Sometimes being a Mormon is not easy. I was often mocked because of my beliefs and things I chose not to do. I lost a lot of friends because I chose not to party. But I don't regret any of it. I know I am free because of the choices I have made. I am strong and spiritually connected. I know I am a child of God, and I have learned to love everyone because they are all my brothers and sisters. My life is full of light because of the righteous decisions i've made.
Please, if you want to know more, ask me! I will share anything I can, the best way I can. I want everyone I am associated with to know what I believe and to also know how happy I am because of it.