Today’s entertaining link is brought to you by the letter B. B is for Believe, and also for Book – as in Book of Mormon. Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the comics that bring us South Park, wrote an award-winning Broadway musical comedy called The Book of Mormon, about two Mormon missionaries that bring their gospel to Africa.
This song from the musical, entitled “I Believe”, is one of my favorite songs in the entire world. For one, it’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard in my life. That’s not an exaggeration; I’ve been listening to it for over a year, and I still smile and giggle when I hear it. For another, it’s mostly true. I know because I’m a Mormon. I have been my entire life. True, my activity level in church has changed a few times over the years, but I’ve always been more or less faithful. The Church has been a constant for me, and something I can identify with.
My faith has a few beliefs that are extremely… unique. Elder Price does a good job of outlining the major ones. Even the funniest ones are true. Mostly. I do believe that ancient Jews built boats and sailed to America. I do believe that the current president of the Church, Thomas S. Monson, speaks directly to God (isn’t that what prayer is?). It’s okay to laugh. It’s funny! I laugh at myself sometimes for believing in that. If you take everything seriously in any religion, especially mine, you’ll end up confused and miserable.
With the presence of the Church in Utah, Mitt Romney’s presidential race, and other news related to my faith, people have heard some things about the Church. And, again, I believe in some of the crazier-sounding ones: I believe that Christ came to visit the American continent after his resurrection (that makes sense, doesn’t it? There were people here, too). I believe that there is priesthood on Earth and that worthy men can hold it and use it to comfort, teach and lead. I believe that our Church is organized the same way the Christ’s church was when he was on the Earth, including apostles and a prophet. I believe in the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ. And I believe that it is as valid as the Bible. I believe that the Trinity – that Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost – are three separate beings with separate missions. I believe that music can serve as scripture.
I believe that children should be baptized at the age of eight instead of at birth, because people born today aren’t accountable for the original sin, and it takes a child at least eight years to recognize the true consequences of sin. I believe that this country was established by God as a chosen land. I believe that the temples that the Church has built around the world – including the beautiful, white, castle-looking building in DC – are sacred houses of God. I believe that God calls young men and women to preach around the world and bring the Gospel to its fullness. Some of these young people are my closest friends and family, and I could never be as brave as they are.
The things that people hear about the Church are more often standards than actual beliefs. We don’t necessarily believe that drinking coffee, dating before the age of sixteen, saying a swear word, or wearing a bikini will send you to hell. We believe in modesty and abstain from swearing because it shows respect to God. We believe in waiting until we’re older to start serious dating because no child younger than that should be pressured into the complicated world of adult relationships. The coffee thing comes from a larger doctrine warning against alcohol and drugs – are we crazy for wanting to stay away from alcohol and drugs?
As with any other faith, there are concepts that I don’t personally believe in, even if my church says so. Nobody is forced to testify for every nitpicky doctrine in their faith. I do want to say that never once have I heard anyone tell me that I’m going to have my own planet, or that in 1978 God changed his mind about black people (that’s a conversation that takes too long to have online), or that the Garden of Eden was in Missouri. Polygamy is illegal and we do not support it in any way.
I’ve borne testimony of my faith several times in my life, usually in front of my congregation. Four memorable times, I’ve done so to non-members – people I care about and trust completely– and given them a copy of the Book of Mormon. I do this mostly because the Book of Mormon is the greatest gift I can give anyone. It’s scary, especially here on the East Coast, to be so open about the Church, because sometimes we just get slammed for no reason. People don’t understand us. They judge us. There are times I feel like I can be completely open about my faith; there are also times I know that I have to keep my mouth shut or suffer the consequences.
Yes, I do believe that ancient Jews built boats and sailed to America long before Columbus did. I also believe that the Lord created the universe. I believe that He sent His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, to die for the sins of mankind. I believe that God has a plan for each and every one of us. I believe in the ten commandments. I believe in being a good person, in charity and in prayer.
If you’re looking for some Sunday reading, have questions about my faith or Christianity in general, or anything else you’d like to say, don’t hesitate to contact me in some way. I’m on here, obviously. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m on Facebook, and I’ve got a car and a cell phone. In no way am I limited to Mormonism, and I won’t preach to anyone; I believe that strong faith in something matters more than specific religion.
If you haven’t yet, listen to that song I linked at the top of the page. It’ll make your day.