Some Thoughts on Discipleship and “Staying Mormon”

I recently read a blog post that was posted or liked by a few of my Facebook friends: “How to Stay Mormon When You’re Tired of Mormons.” The intended audience of the post is those who wrestle with questions about some of the things that the Church teaches, or with elements of Church culture, but who nonetheless still believe and want to attend — but who feel out of place because of their questions, and their dissenting opinions on some elements of Church teaching and culture.

Today I would like to echo the message of Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf in a recent General Conference: all are welcome and wanted, wherever they stand. He explains, “There are few members of the Church who, at one time or another, have not wrestled with serious or sensitive questions. One of the purposes of the Church is to nurture and cultivate the seed of faith—even in the sometimes sandy soil of doubt and uncertainty.” He goes on to say:

If you could see into our hearts, you would probably find that you fit in better than you suppose. You might be surprised to find that we have yearnings and struggles and hopes similar to yours. Your background or upbringing might seem different from what you perceive in many Latter-day Saints, but that could be a blessing. Brothers and sisters, dear friends, we need your unique talents and perspectives. The diversity of persons and peoples all around the globe is a strength of this Church.

I think that it is vital that we reach out to those who sometimes wonder if they fit in, who struggle some elements of Church teaching, who are irritated by other members or some elements of Church culture. We must ensure that all feel welcome here. We should each examine our own words and behaviors and ensure that we are doing all we can to invite, not to exclude, those who are not as convinced as we are of some of the teachings of the Church and its leaders. We must do all we can to make sure that those who don’t feel they fit in are made to feel wanted and welcome. Because these are brothers and sisters — not strangers or foreigners. Continue reading

A Word of Wisdom Primer

gfob_bfobReligious restrictions on food is not uncommon, and exists in every major faith. Both what can be eaten and and how food is prepared and served can be part of the dietary teachings. Islam, for instance, follows similar restrictions to Jewish law and includes prohibition of alcohol. Buddhism and Hinduism both avoid eating cows like Judaism and Islam are to avoid pork consumption. They also both teach not to eat meat, with Buddhism generally more vegetarian in practice. Christianity seems to be the least food conscious religion having nearly no rules other than moderation. Catholicism will have meat off the menu on Fridays, but that seems to be the extent of any rules. Perhaps Seventh Day Adventism with its adherence to Leviticus is the most stringent Christian denomination. Living in a predominantly Protestant and laissez faire Western democracy makes the very simple dietary teachings of Mormonism seem more strict than reality. Continue reading

Guest post: the Family and Social Science in General Conference

This is a guest post by Huston.

In his remarks at the April 2015 General Conference, Elder D. Todd Christofferson said, “The social science case for marriage and for families headed by a married man and woman is compelling.”
He’s not the first to draw support for this area of doctrine from the secular realm. Citing summaries of social science research to bolster statements about marriage and family has practically become de rigeur in talks by general authorities these days.

Below is a list of all such citations that I could find in General Conference in the last five years. This list doesn’t have every citation from a social science study—just the ones where the research was clearly meant to back up a doctrinal principle or recommended practice.

I don’t know of any other subject that’s regularly preached from the pulpit with peer-reviewed, academic references like this. Have there been sermons about tithing or chastity that increase their persuasive strength by quoting scientists, much less a spate of such sermons? Have church leaders settled controversial matters like priesthood ordination with appeals to secular social science? So why just the issue of marriage and family?

Here’s a theory: because this issue is so critical to the success of society, and to our success as a church, that our leaders feel inspired to defend it by every means reasonable. It’s so important that urging ourselves and our friends to consider our view as an article of faith may not be enough—we should be ready to make a difference in our homes and communities equipped with an array of information that should reach any open-minded acquaintance.

If I’ve missed any relevant citations, please note it in the comments.

1. April 2015: “Why Marriage, Why Family,” By Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Family-related idea or counsel: “The social science case for marriage and for families headed by a married man and woman is compelling.”
Social science cited in support: “Nicholas Eberstadt catalogs the worldwide declines in marriage and childbearing and the trends regarding fatherless homes and divorce and observes: ‘The deleterious impact on the hardly inconsequential numbers of children disadvantaged by the flight from the family is already plain enough. So too the damaging role of divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing in exacerbating income disparities and wealth gaps—for society as a whole, but especially for children. Yes, children are resilient and all that. But the flight from family most assuredly comes at the expense of the vulnerable young. That same flight also has unforgiving implications for the vulnerable old.’ (See ‘The Global Flight from the Family,’ Wall Street Journal, Feb. 21, 2015,”
Continue reading