As I was reading through a discussion board dedicated to Mormonism today I ran across a thread started by a Mormon on the topic of morals. This individual gave glowing comments about the youth in his church, attributing their obedience to the Mormon gospel to be what makes them so unique when compared to their non-member peers. His assertion is nothing new, in Mormonism someone’s goodness or lack thereof is always measured by how closely they seem to be following the Mormon gospel. Keeping yourself “morally clean” is a huge thing in the Mormon Church especially for the youth.
Going back to the thread, he closed his post by saying “Whether we are all headed to Hell or not, Mormonism is the best way to raise your family in this life.” So it doesn’t matter if they go to hell or not as long as they live by the commands of the Mormon Church? How sad is that? I find this so sad, and yet in a weird way I can understand where he’s coming from. Mormonism has always taught that proof of one’s righteousness and holiness comes by what is seen on the outside in their manner of Sunday dress, to whether they have a cup of coffee in the morning or enjoy a cold beer in the evening.
As a Mormon I believed those who enjoyed these things and who didn’t care enough to dress up on Sunday were sinning even though they didn’t share my faith in the Mormon Church. When I think about it, it was really silly and to be honest more than a little self-righteous to hold everyone to my standards of living. For me living the Mormon gospel was everything to me I didn’t care if people disagreed or not, which is why I can understand where this guy’s coming from.
But when you come down to it, try as they might the Mormon’s moral standards will never address the real issue they’re wrestling with or provide a permanent resolution for the problem at hand. The real dilemma they are facing is their sin nature. Until they can come to terms with the realization that they’ve been lied to, and they’re indeed born with sin in their heats they will never be able to fully accept the gift of grace, or understand that they will never be able to make themselves morally clean all on their own. Obeying dietary laws will never make one holy and clean, Matthew 15:10-11 tells us it’s not what goes into a man that makes him unclean, but what comes out.
“After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, “Hear and understand.It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.”
When I was a Mormon I worked in the Young Women’s program for many years, I can recall giving lessons upon lessons to the girls of how to behave morally and of the dangers of stepping outside of the lines that had been drawn for them by the church leaders. There was always this semi-unspoken belief that our youth, the Mormon youth were somehow more “clean”, “chaste”, and “holy” than their non-member classmates and peers, even the Christian ones.
I can only speak for myself on this one but I was able to make it through my teen years without getting into drugs, alcohol, or premarital sex and I did this without the influence of the Mormon gospel. I attribute this to my parents for teaching me right from wrong, but mainly to my Father in heaven. Looking back at my life during those formative years it would have been so easy for me to get involved in those things, so easy, but thankfully he was watching over me and guiding over those bumps in my life.
What the Mormons are missing in their quest for righteousness and holiness is a relationship with Jesus Christ. Now this is something they may not want or may even reject because it means they would have to give up control of their lives and surrender control over to the Holy Spirit. This would mean that they would have to admit that they alone aren’t responsible for their good behavior or all their good works, but are mere sinners just like the rest of us.
Many people have high morals and have never set foot in a church; others have same morals but are tied to a legalistic religion as we see in Mormonism. What’s missing in both scenarios is a relationship with Jesus Christ; it’s only through him will any moral lifestyle change we make stick in our hearts. He is the key to any serious heart change when we put aside the old man, and put on the new.
While it’s true Mormonism does teach its young members good values, in the end who gets the praise and glory for the right choices their kids make? Will it be the youth themselves, the religion or the influence Jesus has on them? Sadly I know it’s not going to be the latter.
In a Mormon chapel I attended the branch president had this saying he spoke at every baptism, after the ceremony he would say to the individual who was baptized “You are now the cleanest person on the planet.” This implied that it wasn’t through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ alone that made this person “clean” but by adhering to Mormonism they were clean.
While searching the internet I come across this quote by Boyd K. Packer,
“Because of the Fall, the Atonement of absolutely essential for resurrection to proceed and overcome mortal death. The Atonement was absolutely essential for men to cleanse themselves from sin and overcome the second death, spiritual death, which is separation from our Father in Heaven, for the scriptures tell us … that no unclean thing may enter the presence of God.” (May 2008 Liahona)
According to Mr. Packer it sounds like the sacrifice Jesus made for us is just a stepping stone to us becoming “clean” not what makes us clean, and it’s up to us to truly cleanse ourselves of sin. How exactly do we do that? I picture it being as though we’re taking a bath in dirty water trying to wash ourselves clean. Seeing how this would be a futile attempt to wash away the dirt and grime on our bodies the same can be applied to trying to make ourselves clean with a heart that’s not changed through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In conclusion, the church leaders have abandoned the biblical doctrine of grace for a works righteous system which will fail the members of the Mormon Church in the end.