One question at a time 16 Mormon Myths
Not all the information you get from the Internet or from 3rd parties including books is true. I am not an official spokesperson for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons / LDS Church) I am however an active Member and local leader of the Church.
1. POLYGAMY: Mormons have more than one wife. Over a hundred years ago Mormons practiced polygamy and only a small percent of the church did so and there were several reasons for it although one of the main reasons is that the Mormons believe that everything needs to be restored and the prophets of old were given more than one wife in the Bible and that is one of the principles that was restored. This has not been practiced for over 100 years and at the time the Mormons started polygamy there was not a law against it, later when some laws were passed they stopped the practice although they did not divorce the wives they already had and many of the Mormons went into hiding so as not to get arrested by the Federal Marshals. Many Mormons fled to Mexico at that time and there are still colonies in Mexico that have Mormon roots. Any active Mormon today would be excommunicated if it were found out that they were living in polygamy.
2. SUPERIOR THAN OTHERS: Mormons say and think they are better than everyone else. Obviously this is a myth although with many myths there comes some truth and it is a perception. Doctrine does not teach that Mormons are any better than anyone else and you will notice that the attitude of Mormons in Utah and outside of Utah are a bit different. Some Mormons may seem more judgmental than others or may act self righteous. In reality every person on earth is a child of God and no one is better than anyone else. God does favor the obedient in the Bible although many current Mormons don't fall into that category of being obedient. Mormons should be happier than most people because of the hope and knowledge they have about the afterlife. Interestingly enough many members of the church end up feeling inadequate and get depressed because they don't feel they are doing enough and they don't feel they are perfect enough. Doctrine is clear that we won't obtain perfection in this life. Others overeat or overindulge in other areas because the church prohibits smoking, drinking alcohol, black and green tea, coffee, the improper use of prescription drugs and illicit drugs. Mormons according to their doctrine have information that the rest of the world does not have and hence they are a very strong missionary church with over 80,000 missionaries that are volunteering their time and money to share this information.
3. EARN YOUR OWN SALVATION: Mormons or members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints believe that they can and need to EARN their way to heaven. This is a myth. Mormons believe that we are saved by the grace of Jesus Christ although they also believe that to activate this grace you need to do more than give lip service. The act of saying one accepts Jesus as their savior is not enough. Jesus himself said, "If ye love me keep my commandments" So someone that truly loves God and Jesus will strive to do what is right and repent and try to change when they fall short. The actual Mormon doctrine about the atonement of Jesus Christ is very beautiful because it states that those that accept him and strive to do his will can receive forgiveness and that he suffered for more than just our sins and we can get relief from our sorrow, pain, heartache and loneliness. Christ himself also said that not everyone that says LORD LORD will enter into his kingdom and for those that are familiar with this verse you will will understand the context.
4.MEN BECOMING GODS: Mormons believe they can become just like God HIMSELF and his wife if your a woman. Part of this is true. Members of the Church of Latter Day Saints do believe in a mother in heaven and they also believe that we can progress and eventually become perfect through the suffering and atonement of Jesus Christ so that one day we could assist God in his work of creating worlds and procreation. Mormons do not believe that they can become just like God or take over his position. So becoming a god is not the same thing as taking over his position. The only God we have anything to do with is God the Father and of course his Son Jesus who according to the bible became Lord of Lords, King of Kings. Since members of the church will never end up suffering for the sins of the people like Jesus did they don't believe they will be a God in the same way that God the Father is our God. "As man is God once was and as God is man may become". This type of teaching has existed in the church since the early 1830s.
5.ADAM BROUGHT FROM ANOTHER PLANET: Mormons believe that Adam and Eve were brought from another world and placed here on this earth. This sounds like an alien story although this is not a myth. Mormons actually believe this. They also believe that God send Jesus to create the earth and plant the garden of Eden and without getting the seeds from somewhere planting would be creating out of nothing and what God did was organize matter not create matter.
6. MEN ON THE MOON: A Mormon prophet said that there could be men living on the moon. This seems to be confirmed although when you research it many people of the time believed the same thing. There were even article published where they said they were looking through a large telescope at the moon and they were describing what the men in the moon were doing. This turned out to be a hoax that was published. What you can read from what the records say is that the Prophet believed that people actually lived on other planets and this is still a strong belief in the Mormon faith today. They believe that God created (organized) many worlds "worlds without number" and placed men on each of them. So the belief in life on other planets is not so outrageous although the theory of men living on the moon was something that many people of the day accepted and they did not feel it was far fetched because of the doctrines they were learning and the moon was just the closest planet type place knew about or could see.
7. BLACKS ARE INFERIOR AND THERE IS A CURSE OF DARK SKIN ON THEM BECAUSE OF DISOBEDIENCE IN HEAVEN: This is a MYTH and not a MYTH because the attitude in the US at the time was what it was and that affected Mormons and non-Mormons. The statement is untrue although the perception at the time was that it was true. Some people say that perception is reality. Can we have an incorrect perception of things? Yes we can and they did. Joseph Smith did ordain Elisha Able as the first black Elder although Brigham Young did not continue the practice. Besides the fact that they would not be able to magnify their callings in the priesthood because of the lack of respect at the time the attitude of the Mormons was not any better than the rest of the country at that time. They looked for justification and reasons and they actually held those beliefs which would be different than official doctrine but the belief was that blacks has not been as obedient as others before we were born so they were cursed with a Dark Skin. We know this was wrong. Should God have told the Prophets and Apostles back in the 1800s to change to give them the priesthood and should God have made the Mormons change the way they were acting? Some people cannot conceive of a God that would allow this to go on. God allows men to sin and to make errors in order to learn and grow and he does not force us or take our freedom away. God has all knowledge and he know how long it would take for progress to be made and where it would happen. God let men and the Mormons learn and grow and obviously we are doing better than we were back then although there is a long way to go. In 1978 The Mormon Prophet announced in Conference that every worthy male member 12 and above could receive the priesthood. There were many faithful black members that had waited for years for this to occur and the documentary "No-one knows my story" tells the story in a very powerful way. Check it out. Do I personally think less of the Mormon Prophets that did not change this doctrine sooner or did not bring out the untruth of the prevailing attitudes about blacks? No, I don't think less of them. I know they were men and had faults and they dedicated themselves to a work that they felt was important and true and they concentrated on that work of preaching the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth. Did they have shortcomings, faults and sins? Yes they did and so do we although they were part of a great and marvelous work.
8. JOSEPH SMITH TRANSLATED THE BOOK OF MORMON GOLD PLATES WITH THE A SET OF SPECTACLES AND A METAL AND STONE BREASTPLATE THAT WAS USED FOR TRANSLATING: This is a MYTH because Joseph used a SEER stone in a HAT for much of the translation and he got to a point where he did not even need that. This information hurts some peoples perception of the Church because they believed it was the case for so long that they did not know there ws any other way. Joseph Smith translated the plates with the gift and the power of God. It is believed that he also used the breastplate and the so called eyeglasses part of the time but much of the translation was done with the SEER STONE. I learned this many years ago when studying about the Book of Mormon and to me with was very interesting and did not hurt my testimony of the Church at all.
9. JOSEPH SMITH WAS A GOLD DIGGER AND TREASURE HUNTER: This is NOT a Myth but it is TRUE. He belonged to a group of men that did exactly that, looked for buried treasure. This was not uncommon at the time. No wonder the men got so upset when he claimed he had found a large box with gold plates (most likely around 60 lbs or so) The men were so upset that they tried many things to get their hands on the plates including paying a physic to find the hidden plates and at once point the medium took them to the barrel making shop of the smiths only to find that when they dug up the floor boards the box the plates were once hidden in was empty because God warned Joseph to move the plates. There are many interesting stories about this. If you belonged to a group like this and made an agreement to share the treasure imagine how upset you would be when one of those from your group found gold and did not share it with you. Some people believe Joseph actually found the gold plates and then made up the story of the angel to throw them off track and as a story to pacify the people that wanted the gold. Others say he made all the stories up. When you study the life and read his journals you find out how complex he really was. The other possibility is that the entire story really was true.
Don't believe everything you read or hear. This goes for Mormonism as well as other religions. Checking with someone that is in a position to answer you is the best option as well as looking at official sources of doctrine making sure you are reading in context which means reading before and after the specific verse or verses. Many people that write books or blogs against the LDS/Mormon faith do not include all of the story and leaving information out is just as bad as adding false information which occurs quite often. If you want to know more I suggest you ask the missionaries to come and visit you. Actually reading the Book of Mormon is another step going right to the source rather than reading all the negative information about it.
Can you think of any other Mormon Myths?