Why Mormonism is a Gift

A Few Reasons Why Mormonism is One of the Greatest Gifts I Have Ever Been Given

By Ken K. Gourdin

I hope my readers will forgive a post that is not explicitly about Christmas this Christmas season. (It is, however, about one of the greatest gifts I have ever received, so, in that sense, it is in keeping with the Thanksgiving and Christmas spirits, respectively, and hence, with recent trends on the blog).

Thanks to Dan Peterson, at BYU and Patheos, for bringing this to the attention of his readers. With respect to anyone who follows a different faith tradition – or, for that matter, to anyone who follows no faith tradition at all – I am extraordinarily grateful to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At National Review, American Principles Project Senior Fellow Maggie Gallagher does a good job explaining some of the reasons why.

With due respect to anyone whose family does not fit this mold, Gallagher examines the Austin Institute’s recently released survey, Relationships in America for clues about which religious stripes may be doing the best job of promoting traditional family values and, by so doing, promoting family strength. (If the family from which you came does not fit that mold as much as you would like, or if the family of which you are now a part does not, you can be the solution to both of those challenges.) See here for Gallagher’s observations (last accessed December 13, 2014):

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/394510/mormon-advantage-maggie-gallagher.

Gallagher notes:

Research on the relationship between religion and family has been complicated by the fact that, today, religious affiliation tells you relatively little about what people believe or how they behave. Many people are cultural, not religious, when it comes to their religious affiliation, which makes it harder to see what impact attendance and the teaching that takes place in houses of worship has on marriage and family behavior.

According to Gallagher, among the survey’s findings are that “[j]ust one percent of Mormons who attend services at least three times a month agree that casual sex can sometimes be okay.” Eight percent of regularly-attending Protestants do, five percent of Evangelicals do, and ten percent of Catholics do. Eighty-nine percent of LDS surveyed disagree with “casual sex with no further expectations.” Only four percent of Mormons approve of premarital cohabitation, while seven percent of evangelicals, 17 percent of fundamentalist protestants, and 24 percent of regularly-attending Catholics do. (Again, these are people who attend church at least three times per month.)

The only mildly-disappointing findings of the survey are with regard to extramarital relationships and the practice of premarital sex. Mormons are second-highest among the groups surveyed, with three percent of regularly-attending Mormons approving of extramarital relations, while four percent of regularly-attending mainline protestants and traditional and moderate Catholics approve, and zero percent of Pentecostals approve. With respect to the practice of premarital sex, Gallagher writes, “Among regular churchgoers (three times a month or more), 57 percent of evangelicals had premarital sex with their future spouse, as did 64 percent of traditional Catholics, and 66 percent of fundamentalist Protestants. Just 14 percent of Mormons did.” That 14% figure does seem high, but the survey likely doesn’t differentiate between Mormons who converted after marriage and those who were reared in the faith.

As The Family: A Proclamation To The World from the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints makes clear (see here, last accessed today: https://www.lds.org/topics/family-proclamation):

THE FAMILY is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. . . .

WE WARN that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

With due respect to anyone who might feel differently (and without any desire to give offense), I will never apologize for belonging to a church that emphasizes traditional values so strongly, nor do I believe the Church as an institution ever should do so.

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About kenngo1969

Just as others must breathe to live, I must write. I have been writing creatively almost ever since I learned to write, period! I have written fiction, book- and article-length nonfiction, award-winning poetry, news, sports, features, and op-eds. I hope, one day, to write some motivational nonfiction, a decent-selling novel, a stage play, and a screen play.
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4 Responses to Why Mormonism is a Gift

  1. john says:

    Thank You for this, I’m not at all surprised by it. And I agree you have indeed been given a very great gift. Being born into such an exemplary religion which does such immense good, is a glorious gift.
    Now, as to the writing, how I love when you manage to include -in context- one of your ancient Mormon scripture passages. For example at the end you mentioned “With due respect to anyone who might feel differently…”; now if you’d added “for just as ((name here) said in the book of (_____ ) “beautifully relevant passage with a bit of angst”. Or a warning type ” we saw how (name here) chose to not follow, and we saw the consequence of this when (beautifully relevant passage”)… now that would have been the icing on the cake!
    But I do love when you include these.
    My very favorite of yours is where you mention “About some things, I simply have to shrug my shoulders and say, with Nephi, “I know not the meaning of all things. Nevertheless, I know that God loveth His children” How beautiful this is! I’ve reread it many times and the first time I nearly was in tears. Why? Because this passage was given context and feeling that I would not have seen. “Shrug our shoulders” this is the heart of what you did. It may seem small to you, but it matters. The feeling, that simply description, castes the passage into a very human light and puts a perspective on it. So it becomes not a reading, but an experience. I am So grateful for the gift of experiencing that feeling with that passage, a feeling I would not have been cognizant of on my own. Thank You for that.

  2. Well, a “good” mormon woman pursued and had an extensive physical & emotional affair with my non-mormon husband. She sat in church each Sunday with her unknowing husband & children, while she met secretly & texted daily with a married man.

    And your statistics are quite biased, as you are relying on surveyed individuals to tell the truth. You can’t measure truthfulness.

    • kenngo1969 says:

      I am sorry for what happened to your family. Yes, that woman can lie (and, if what you say is true, apparently has lied) to her leaders in order to preserve a facade and a charade in order to maintain the illusion of good standing in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One of the most difficult aspects of mortality is enduring the injustice that occurs when people do horrendous things yet seem to escape accountability for them, at least in this life. She will have a much harder time doing that at the final judgment. God will not be mocked. (See the second paragraph I quote above from “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”)

      As for the accuracy of the statistics cited in the blog post, they are not “my” statistics. You will have to take that issue up with those who designed and administered the study. I suppose each person will have to assess for himself how interested the Austin Institute, the American Principles Project, National Review, and Maggie Gallagher are in preserving their credibility. As you rightly point out, making such a determination is a judgment call. For my part, I am reasonably certain that all of those parties have a serious stake in maintaining their credibility. And while I am not certain, I suspect that all of these parties will automatically catch a good deal of flak from certain quarters by advancing the position that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members have any redeeming qualities to recommend them to the world at large. While no one would dream of making fun of African Americans, Jews, women, or other historically-disadvantaged groups, as Mitt Romney’s presidential candidacies appear to have demonstrated, in many ways, anti-Mormonism seems to be the last acceptable American prejudice. The Austin Institute, et al, have nothing to gain (and much to lose) by attempting to cast Mormons or Mormonism in a positive light, especially if their statistics are incorrect and if their methodology is poor.

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