Located at the LDS Church website is a short video and comment about The Ten Commandments given by God to Israel through the Prophet Moses. Often it seems that those who don’t know Mormons, and some who do, have this idea that the faith has too many rules and regulations. Most importantly that somehow the religion is different from all the others in the approach to ethics and commandments. Some have said there are over 100 commandments that Mormons must follow. There is some truth to these opinions because the Western World has changed over the years. What is expected of people today is far less than what was taught before the social revolutions back a generation. Yet, understanding the required behaviors for a believing Mormon isn’t that hard.
The first recognition is that Mormons are not Eastern Quakers or Catholic Nuns and Monks. It is taught that a person should live in the world, but not of the world. That means participating in life; going to work, getting married, going to school, raising children, etc. Life is not about a cloistered existence. That leaves a lot of room for what a Mormon can do in this world. As one blog noted about living the standards of the faith, ” “There may be lots of rules and guidelines but these aren’t rocket science. Its simple things like get enough sleep, wear appropriate clothing. If you ask me…. Being Mormon is easy. The world is hard!”
What are the Mormon standards they are asked to live with as a believer? It starts with a basic list that can be found in the Bible of all places. In the book of Exodus Chapter 20 the list includes:
. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).
2. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image” (Exodus 20:4).
3. “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” (Exodus 20:7).
4. “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8).
5. “Honour thy father and thy mother” (Exodus 20:12).
6. “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13).
7. “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14).
8. “Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:15).
9. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” (Exodus 20:16).
10. “Thou shalt not covet” (Exodus 20:17).
At the very least this list is the most basic of guidelines to be followed. In case any of the above was missed in the first reading, these 10 Commandments are found in Mosiah 13, where the question is asked why those who teach it don’t follow them?
There are another set of ethical standards that are said to be harder to follow, but no less familiar to those who know the Bible. They can be find in the sermon on the mount or sermon on the plain, depending on what version is used. It is standards of behavior outlined by the mortal Jesus to a gathered multitude. Instead of only outward behavior, the sermons focus in on becoming a better person by controlling thoughts and feelings along with actions.
Over the years guidance has been given from the leadership of the LDS Church to members. Some of this can best be explored in For the Strength of Youth amphlets. A few unusual suggestions might be “Do not attend, view, or participate in entertainment that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way. Do not participate in entertainment that in any way presents immorality or violent behavior as acceptable.” Still other unusual suggestions could include, “When you are well groomed and modestly dressed, you invite the companionship of the Spirit and can exercise a good influence on those around you,” and “Do not disfigure yourself with tattoos or body piercings. If girls or women desire to have their ears pierced, they are encouraged to wear only one pair of modest earrings.” It must be emphasized that the above doesn’t automatically assume a sin has been committed (pornography might be the exception), much as trying to avoid them.
Biblical Prophets and Apostles have been just as concerned with strict avoidance of sin. Paul’s letters are filled with advice, suggestions, and commandments that sound like a laundry list of do and don’t. From 1 Corinthians chapter 6 is the admonition:
7 Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?
8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.
9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
There are also directives about best clothing choices, such as 1 Timothy 2: 9-10, for believers:
9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;
10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
Jesus does break down the commandments into two basic components Of “love the Lord thy God,” and “love thy neighbour as thyself.” Those who are fulfilling the spirit of the Commandments or Law must have these as the basis for behavior. Following the Lord is built on Faith and Repentance.
Probably what singles out Mormons more than anything, besides dressing standards sometimes, is the health standards known as Word of Wisdom. At the minimum we are commanded not to drink alcohol and coffee, smoke, or do drugs. Technically, none of these are considered sins although they will keep a person out of sacred Mormon Temples. That is not a light restriction to be sure and can stop spiritual growth. However, a person who does these things won’t be considered worthy of damnation just for doing them. It is a lot more complicated than an if/then eternal perspective. Too many times Mormons forget this fact and make improper judgments. Even so, our bodies are to be treated as temples of God.
Ultimately, it isn’t about “I can’t, I’m Mormon”, but following the 10 Commandments, Jesus’ Sermons, and avoiding the sins as described in Scriptures. It is about not following after every trend of the world. It is about making a choice based on faith. Those who think Mormonism is strict must honestly come to the conclusion that what is taught in the Bible is no longer respected. There really is nothing new, only the old spelled out in new ways. Mormons are different only in so far as the social moral compass has been forgotten or regressed.