Baptismal Interview Questions – Part 4

31 December

lds_baptismIn part 4 of my series I’m going to address the 5thquestion asked of new converts at their interview to be baptized into the Mormon Church. The question in its entirety goes as follows:

5. You have been taught that membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints includes living gospel standards. What do you understand of the following standards? Are you willing to obey them?

a. The law of chastity, which prohibits any sexual relationship outside the bonds of a legal marriage between a man and a woman.

b. The law of tithing.

c. The Word of Wisdom.

d. The Sabbath day, including partaking of the sacrament weekly and rendering service to fellow members.

There is nothing that makes a Mormon happier than living out the “gospel standards” and to give a resounding “YES!” to questions regarding their righteousness.  They’ve been taught to believe that it’s through living these standards they will be made righteous and holy and be considered “worthy” to ascend into the highest ranks of Mormonism such as receiving the priesthood and/or receiving their very own temple endowments.

These standards are used as a measuring stick that separates the unworthy from those who are sold out for “the gospel”.

There’s nothing wrong with having standards to live by. I believe as Christians we should have certain standards, but we should also be mindful of where those standards are coming from. There’s a difference between following what God has put on your heart to do, and going down the path of legalism because you’ve caved to someone else’s view of what’s right to do.

 When to you see yourself believing that to do or not do something is to put your salvation in peril you need to question where those ideas are coming from. Sadly that’s what Mormonism does, it imposes legalistic works upon its members telling them that if they don’t obey and do X, Y & Z they’re putting their eternal life at risk.

They haven’t been taught to trust in Jesus Christ, in His work on the cross for their salvation. From the things I’ve read by members of the church they have this notion that obedience comes first, then faith and finally after you’ve done all you can do grace steps into the picture.

How can we be obedient if we first don’t have faith in the Lord to trust in what He’s commanded us to obey?

To have faith and trust in the Lord we must first be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s promptings telling us its ok submit and follow the Lord. Mormonism teaches that you don’t receive the Holy Spirit until after you’ve baptized into their church. So how can the individual being interviewed say undoubtedly that they’re willing to follow and obey without the Holy Spirit’s guidance? Where, who or what are they putting their faith in if they don’t already have the Holy Spirit?

As I look at the list of to do’s the individual being interviewed is committing themselves to I wonder how these play apart in their salvation? Does God really care about many of these?

No sexual relationships outside of marriage

The first one is what my kids would call a “no brainer”. Of course you should remain faithful to your husband or wife, and resist the temptation to have inappropriate relationships outside the bonds of marriage. God has made it very clear in His Word that this is what He wants for us.

Obey the law of tithing

The second one, obey the “law of tithing” is one you’ve probably never heard of unless you are or were a member of the church. There’s no such thing as the “law of tithing” within Christianity.

Tithing is an Old Testament law; it was required of the Israelites to give 10% to the building of the Tabernacle/Temple. While the Christian church has adopted the 10% figure from the Old Testament as a suggested amount to give, nowhere in the New Testament are we commanded to give a certain amount of our income. We are however commanded to set some aside for an offering (Cor 1 16:2), and to give cheerfully according to what God has placed on our hearts to give (2 Cor 9:7).

For a Christian tithing represents something God has asked them to do. Mormons on the other hand have made tithing out to be a requirement for salvation. One of the prerequisites to being allowed entrance into their temples to receive their endowments (which is another requirement for Mormon salvation) is to be a full tithe payer. If you’re a Mormon struggling financially to pay your 10% to the church you won’t be permitted to receive your temple recommend, and by their standards won’t receive salvation until you’re willing to pay up.

Obey the Word of Wisdom

The Word of Wisdom found in the Doctrine and Covenants Section 89 is a command to the Mormon people of what foods and drinks they should consume.

One of the forbidden fruits in Mormonism is coffee. I remember the first cup of coffee I had after I left the Mormon Church. I had dropped my son off at an appointment and decided to grab a cup of coffee. I can remember thinking how good it tasted, and still in the back of my mind I feared wrecking on my way back to the office because I was having a cup of coffee.

It sounds crazy I know, but as a Mormon I was conditioned to believe that the Word of Wisdom was for my protection, and to disobey it was to bring God’s wrath upon me.

In addition to coffee Mormons are commanded not to drink tea, alcohol, or “hot drinks”. Also Mormons are to stay away from tobacco and other habit-forming drugs. The topic of whether one should drink caffeinated sodas/drinks has been debated back and forth amongst those in the church. However the church has never came out with an official stance on the topic.

As far as food goes Mormons are to eat herbs and fruit in season. Meat is to be “used sparingly”, only in “times of winter, or of cold or famine”. (D&C 89:10-13)

Grain is to be “the staff of life” and is for man as well as their animals (D&C 89:14).

This section of the Doctrine and Covenants goes on to say that those who obey this command will “find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;” (D&C 89:19).

What are these “hidden treasures” Joseph Smith is referring to? I have no idea.

If you’re not a Mormon it might surprise you to know that most Mormons, at least the ones I knew didn’t follow the things commanded in this section to the letter. They have no problem following the rules on beverages, but when it came to eating meat sparingly, and only consuming fruit in season they didn’t seem to think it was that important. Go figure!

http://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/89?lang=eng

Obeying the Sabbath

Mormons follow the Old Testament law of the Sabbath being “a day of rest”. On Sunday Mormons attend church for three hours and are to spend the rest of the day worshiping the Lord, provide service and/or working on their genealogy. They’re not to spend the day shopping, eating out (which requires others to work) and are to refrain from working themselves.

For the Christian keeping the Sabbath presents spiritual freedom. Romans 14:5 says –

“One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”

As Christians we’re free from the Laws of the Old Testament. We can freely worship the Lord night or day any day of the week; we can do it alone or with a group of believers. And whatever we do we’re to do to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31).

As I conclude I’m reminded of how we are made righteous through the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:22), and it’s because of His obedience to go to the cross that we can be found worthy to be called children of God (Gal 3:26).

We can’t make ourselves righteous through obedience to legalistic works, as the Mormons have been taught to believe. Living those types of standards wouldn’t make us truly happy. Sure it may give us a good ego boost, and make us feel like we’re better than others, but it won’t last.

What lasts is the joy that comes from trusting in Jesus Christ, and knowing we can truly rest from our labors because He holds our salvation in His hands.

In Christ,

Melissa Grimes melissa@lifeafter.org

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