My religion...for real.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing, just tired."

"How could you be tired? You haven't even created a world yet!"

It took a second for this statement to register.

"Do you really believe you're going to go around creating planets after you're dead?"

As usual, my coworker had picked the worst possible moment to taunt me about my religion. As I turned to answer the phone all I could manage was a hurried, "Yes, I do." through a half-hearted smile.


If you're reading this and thinking, "Yes? He really does believe that? Those Mormons must be CRAZY!" Then this post is for you. I've been asked this question many times before, and it seems like I usually struggle to find an answer that's simple and accurate. You see, concepts that sound crazy by themselves make a lot more sense when understood in the proper context. The problem is that the answer to that question needs a lot of context! As I drove home from work, all I could think about was how to answer that question in a way that makes sense to someone who is entirely unfamiliar with Mormon beliefs. Guess what? It came to me!

Mormons believe in family. The end.

Now for the explanation. God is our Father. That's why Mormons usually refer to Him as Heavenly Father, not just God. Like most fathers, Heavenly Father is raising a family. Don't panic, I'm not saying God takes after fathers here on Earth. In fact, it's the other way around! Families exist on Earth BECAUSE they exist in heaven. Our experience here is a preparation for our eternal destiny, much like your dentist's arduous years of dental school were preparation for his destiny of fixing your teeth. So, next time you're tiffed because your teenager stole the keys and wrecked your car, ask yourself what better preparation you could have for becoming like Heavenly Father! I mean, how many billions of kids does He have? And how much more stupid are their mistakes than taking the car for a joyride? (Think war here, or any old bad thing people do.) Do you think He ever gets frustrated or sad when you do things to take advantage of His other children or waste the resources He gives so generously?

So if God is our Father and we are his children and children grow up to be parents, why shouldn't we become gods when we grow up? I mean, seriously? Is there something difficult to understand here?

I think some people are bothered by the misconception that Mormons are out to become equal to God or overthrow Him or take His power or something like that. I don't know about you, but if I were an all-powerful, all-knowing being attempting to help a bunch of people reach the "all-powerful" status, I would have built in a safeguard to ensure that they wouldn't be able to stage a coup and throw me out of power. The point is that Heavenly Father (like any parent who wishes to raise responsible, productive children) has asked us to do a few things before He hands over the keys to godhood. That's right, there are conditions to some of the blessings God gives.

Whoa! Hold on!!! Before anyone has a chance to throw out the "that's not fair" card, let's go back to the parent/child relationship. Picture this. You are a dad. You have two sons. You have one BMW. Both of your sons want to borrow the car for a night that week. Are you going to give the keys to the son who studies hard, gets good grades, does his chores, and keeps decent hours or the son who was just cited for speeding, dropped out of school, and has a history of driving under the influence? Yeah....why on Earth should God allow privileges to all His children equally? He shouldn't! There's no way I would let my crazy son drive the BMW. The thing is that God is way nicer of a dad than I am, and He almost always gives us WAY more than we deserve. But that doesn't change the fact that He wants us to keep His commandments in order to obtain maximum happiness.

So Mormons believe in family. We believe in family units here on earth. We believe in the human family. We believe in eternal family. We do believe that we can become like our Heavenly Father. We have that potential just like our children have the potential to grow up and have kids of their own. See? Family.

Hopefully you get the idea. But there's one more thing. No one is perfect, right? Right. God asks us to keep His commandments, but we usually mess up...a lot. All of us. EVEN MORMONS! All the time. Fortunately, Heavenly Father (being a genius) knew this would happen, so He included Jesus Christ as the capstone of His perfect plan. Yes, Jesus Christ, the center of Mormonism. It's Jesus Christ that makes eternal families possible. Learning to become like Heavenly Father is a tall order, so God sent His Son Jesus Christ to guide us through each step, pick us up when we fall, and give us strength to keep going when things get really tough.

So we can do it. All of us! We can obey God's commandments and we can become like Him because Christ did. And He is here to help us along the way because there's no way we can do it on our own.

In review: God is our Father. We are His children. We have the potential to become like him. Our earthly families, despite their many faults and imperfections, were designed by God to help us learn how to live in our eternal family. And guess what? If our family gets big enough to require its own planet, all the better! And never forget that Christ is the Way, the Light, the Truth. Following Him is the only way to reach our godly potential.


So what is my religion really? It's doing my best to follow the example of Jesus Christ. Helping the poor. Befriending the friendless. Visiting the lonely. Donating my time and talents to helping and loving others. Christ asked us to love one another. Let's do it!

I'll leave the planet building for later.

Comments

  1. Wow, Tyler! Thank you for your post. I've never heard it expressed quite that way before. I really appreciate that. I also appreciate your boldness in expressing testimony of what really matters. The Family.

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  2. This is one of the best, most simple and straight-forward explanations of one of the deepest doctrines of Mormonism that I've ever encountered. Your focus on Christ as the center of it all is very well stated. Thanks!

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  3. Great. This is the best way I've found to explain things- you articulate it very well.

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  4. Tyler, as always, profound words here. Interesting conversations you're having at work!

    I like how you've explained things. It really is simple doctrine... some folks just make it sound so 'deep.'

    ReplyDelete
  5. David SmithJune 18, 2010

    Nice!

    ReplyDelete

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