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):
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.