Why do I choose to live as a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
One might very well look at my upbringing and the circumstances of the history of my life, and conclude that–well, I was raised as a Latter-day Saint, so I must be sticking to it because that is how I was raised.
This is actually pretty far from the truth.
I have had many opportunities to diverge from my faith and its accompanying lifestyle.
I also have many good friends and acquaintances who have been raised as Latter-day Saints, but who have chosen to live their lives according to new or different beliefs later on in their lives based on their experiences, their desires, and things they have learned as they have grown older. I have nothing against these friends and acquaintances. In fact, I believe that there is nothing more sacred and important than the choice we all have to live our lives in accordance with our beliefs, whatever those beliefs may be, and whether those beliefs run contrary to those we grew up on.
My point here is that my choice to live as a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is just that–a choice. It is my choice, and has always been my choice to make or not make. And I make it quite consciously and purposefully. Here I will endeavor to explain my reasoning for this choice.
I will begin with the simplest explanation: I believe.
I believe in the doctrines of the Church, in the power of the ordinances and covenants made available therein, in the prophets who lead and guide the Church, and in its founder: Jesus Christ. I believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the same Church that Christ himself founded while on the earth, now restored in the modern day by Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith in 1830. This is something I have come to believe and know through hard-earned, deliberately cultivated study and faith. It has not been a belief easily come by–I have worked hard for it. These beliefs are the building blocks of my faith and the bedrock of my “testimony,” and they bring me a lot of joy and peace. It is important to me that I believe these things because of many personal experiences laboring over the truths taught in the scriptures, over the words of ancient and modern-day prophets, and by seeking a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have a document titled “The Articles of Faith.” It is canonized as scripture and can be found in The Pearl of Great Price, one of the four books accepted by the Latter-day Saints as scripture. I have sitting here next to me, as I write on my laptop in my overstuffed chair in my bedroom, my “quad,” one which my husband purchased for me recently. It is a little (but thick) book containing all four works of scripture: The Holy Bible (King James version), The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price. I’ll turn to “The Articles of Faith” now.
In “The Articles of Faith,” there are 13 verses, “articles,” or essentially maxims. They illustrate the most basic tenets of the faith that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints adhere to. Significantly, 12 of the 13 articles of faith begin with the words “We believe.” “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in his Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost” (AOF 1). “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression” (AOF 2). “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel” (AOF 3). The one article of faith that does not begin with “We believe” begins with an even stronger phrase: “We claim.” It enumerates the cherished belief that I have already presented earlier in this post: “We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may” (AOF 11).
My personal conviction of the principle taught in this maxim is why you will never hear me “bash” or disparage anyone else for his or her beliefs. I believe very strongly that we all ought to have the unfettered privilege of believing and worshipping (or not worshipping) according to our own desires. I sincerely hope that anyone reading this or any of my writing will allow me the same privilege and offer me the respect that I and everyone else in this world ought to be afforded, to believe as I desire and choose, and to express those beliefs in an open (and I hope positive) forum. Beliefs can be divisive, and this is surely why “politics and religion” are discouraged topics of conversation in “polite” company. But it is our privilege to still hold these beliefs, and can be our great privilege and joy to express those beliefs with dignity and love, with respect to both ourselves and any who believe differently than we do.
I choose to live the lifestyle by the spiritual beliefs that I do because these beliefs have been cultivated in me and I have cultivated these beliefs over many years and many “trials and challenges,” both intellectually and otherwise, to those beliefs.
What are the implications of my beliefs? How do they reflect in my lifestyle?
Speaking generally, there is a lifestyle implication for every belief that any one of us holds. In other words, anything you or I believe is inevitably reflected in the way we behave.
Because of my belief in Jesus Christ, I can be seen trying to do as he did–to love others, to provide help to others, and to share the truths he taught when given the opportunity.
Because of my belief in the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have chosen to participate in the ordinances of baptism confirmation, weekly partaking of the Sacrament, and the ordinances available in the temple. I have made covenants associated with each of these ordinances which I can be seen trying each day to live true to–covenants to remember Jesus Christ, to take upon me the name of Jesus Christ, to serve others, to sacrifice my time and abilities in service to the Church and to those around me, to live a chaste life, to obey the principles of the gospel and to keep the commandments of Jesus Christ given to me through the words of ancient and modern prophets.
These are just a few of the implications of my beliefs for my lifestyle. To go into detail regarding all the choices, big and small, that I make on a daily and weekly basis as a result of my beliefs would take much more than a single post’s discussion. But that is why I have created this blog–to be able to go into these things in more detail for any who are curious to read about just why someone in this day and age would choose to live this way and to believe these things.