Why I chose to be a Latter-day Saint: And not a Mormon

I still remember the smell of the chapel as I sat down five years ago.

It was a scent l I hadn’t smelled before–a scent that I’ve since gotten used to. The walls were bare except for some paintings of Christ and people I didn’t recognize and I wondered briefly where the crosses were. I remember touching the broken spine of a hymnal and only recognizing one or two hymns inside.

It was different. Somewhat strange. It was my first time in an LDS chapel and I had just turned 19.

chapel

But I like looking back at that day. It was that day–before I even read the Book of Mormon–that I chose to be a Latter-day Saint. Already coming from a Christian background, I had done my time and served my sentence of confusion and wondering where the pieces fit. It was that day that I had my first realization that the missionaries seem to glow…for lack of a better term. It was that day that I realized how exciting the stories are in the Book of Mormon. And better yet–how they speak truth. It was that day–in mid summer–that I heard the first hymns I’d ever hear and my eyes filled with tears at “Lord I would follow thee”.

And I often go back to that day to remind myself that THAT is who I chose to be. A Latter-day Saint.

Not a Mormon.

baptism

I know the terms are interchangeable, and I often use the term Mormon, just like you probably do. There’s no harm in that and I’m not splitting hairs. But for the purpose of my story I would venture to say that those two terms mean totally separate things. From being in the church only 5 years, I already would bet my life on it.

It’s so easy to get caught up in being Mormon. Even for me. And that’s because we all start as Latter-day Saints and then get plunged into a culture that demands so much. Pinterest-inspired Relief Society invites, canning activities, the details behind missionary preparation *and God forbid, any hesitancy to go*, The Princess Bride, John Bytheway, short engagements, Stake dances, *and my personal favorite* “So when are you going to have a baby?” after a month of marriage.

I’m not saying all of the culture is bad, because it isn’t. But when you are more immersed in the culture than in the foundation of the church itself–the very reason I stepped into the baptismal font and cried at “Lord I would follow thee”–that’s when you become Mormons instead. That’s when you become a member of a club rather than a disciple of a master.

disciple of master

And that bothers me.

It bothers me because I still retrace my steps five summers ago into the chapel for the first time and I still remember opening the Book of Mormon and seeing Alma at the top of the page for the first time. I still remember how it felt to learn about forever families— and to not just vainly repeat, “Families are forever” or nail a pretty sign that says the same thing above a door frame. I remember how it felt to really let the message sink in and to cry into my hands when I realized, without a doubt, I’d see my uncle again who died just a month before I learned about the church.

I remember how it felt to say for the first time, “This church is true” and to not be able to go on with what I had to say because it overwhelmed me how true the statement was–and how it changed my life. It wasn’t repetition. I didn’t say it to fill time or to keep up with the standard. My heart just knew it.

missionaries

It bothers me that so many of us have forgotten who we really are because we’ve exchanged it all for a lifestyle made out of old habits. There are those who stray from the culture–the women who work two jobs outside of the home and the single dad; the young man who decides to wait a couple years to serve a mission; the young woman who celebrates 30 years old without a ring on her finger; the couple who can’t have kids; the wonderful stay-at-home mom who is so over-exerted she sees a psychologist every week; the kid with autism who doesn’t fit in. There are thousands–maybe millions–of Latter-day Saints who are forced out of a gospel they fit into because a culture whispers to them that they do not.

And that has to stop. We need to regain footing of who we are and the beautiful gift we’ve been given.

bom reading

When I chose to be a Latter-day Saint I chose that “I would follow, thee”. I chose that I’d spend my whole life telling people about the book that changed my life in a week.  I decided that I’d dress modestly not because everyone is forced to out of tradition, but because I represent Him. Five years ago I learned that the prophets from long ago told the truth and their sacrifices made way for me to find out about the good news–and I can’t forget that. It was my decision to leave it all behind–old beliefs, friends who no longer wanted to associate with me, comfortable familiar church buildings, and songs I learned as a toddler–for an unfamiliar gospel that I somehow KNEW was true. And nothing convinced me of it other than Him. Not culture, not tradition, not anything else.

temple switzerland

Our culture has lots of good, don’t get me wrong. And if we remember why we do some of the things we do the spirit will come back to it. But don’t let it make you forget. Don’t let it deter a soul who has just heard “Lord I would follow thee” and doesn’t know yet that families are forever.

Choose to be a disciple. Choose to be a saint.

Everything else is meaningless.

131 thoughts on “Why I chose to be a Latter-day Saint: And not a Mormon

  1. I love all of your posts, but I really love this one – I kind of despise the culture overall, especially because it does become hard to fit in. There’s of course the generic example of the Relief Society wanting to do activities like making cute home crafts and have a girls’ night painting nails and baking things and…I’m not girly or domestic, not that way. I don’t want to learn to sew Maxi skirts, I want to sew cosplay costumes. As far as being a “mormon mom” goes, I am one insofar as that I’m LDS and I’m lucky enough to soon be a mom. I’m not on Pintrest, I’m not doing all the cute activities, I will have a hard time participating in the mother’s group due to reasons…Other things, too, like the way we get cliquish or put a heavy taboo on talking about anything even remotely related to sex, that just are unhealthy…

    …but then, in reading this post, I see it’s not really so much the culture that I want to scowl at, isolated – it’s this, what you’ve written, where I feel like getting caught up in the culture means losing sight of the big why. Of being LDS. I connect so much better with those girly, domestic Relief Society sisters when we connect on the grounds of both being daughters of God, women in the Church, than when we talk about “Mormon” things. I think I can better express my feelings about the situation now that I’ve read yours, thank you.

      1. Here, here! Where are you when we need costumes for the stake play or roadshow? Or maybe they don’t do those anymore because of people who don’t participate because they don’t want to get caught up in the “culture.” Our faith informs the culture, not the other way around.

      2. Here, here! Where were you when we needs costumes for the stake play or the roadshow. Or don’t they do those anymore? No one participates because they don’t want to get “caught up in the culture”. Our faith informs our culture, not the other way around.

  2. Love love love this! As an adult convert, I, too, just KNEW it was all true. I knew the Book of Mormon was true before i ever opened its pages. Love this so much! You can call me Mormon, but I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints!! And I will do everything I can to not forget the “why” of it.

  3. Rii..it’s funny you mention making maxi skirts because that is exactly what our Relief society did last Tuesday….and we are in California and not Utah….and I did not go because I didn’t want to make one….anyway this post was as excellent as always.
    I have never thought about not fitting in…even though I suffered through some awful treatment from the youth in my ward when I was in high school… I still knew I belong in church every Sunday. My husband was a convert at 18 and was one of the few 20 year old boys at BYU in the mid 80’s. He always got from girls, why aren’t you on a mission? What did you do?’ He would say, I just joined the church’…and they would say…that’s no excuse…so he decided that since the girls he wanted to date only wanted an RM, then he wanted only an RM..He also thought he wanted to marry into a big Utah Mormon family……He did marry an RM and into a big Mormon family except we are from California….He dislikes the culture a lot too….and makes sure he connects with all the investigators and new converts.

  4. This out of many of your post has hit home for me, and you being my daughter may know why? It is a culture I have been struggling with. But after reading your post it isn’t about really fitting in, it’s just knowing why I chose to be LDS.. at times I feel the people that we are around may influence us to take a different route, but we need to stay grounded and remember why we are LDS in the first place:) thank you Kayla!

  5. So grateful that you have the insight and gift of expressing things I have felt in my heart. I appreciate your loving reminders, to help each of us strive to keep our focus on our Savior and righteous desires and remind us not to loose track and get stuck in ‘culture’ things. Helping us to remember to choose to be a disciple. and choose to be a saint. Struck so many deep and abiding cords in my soul. Thank-you just doesn’t seem to cover what I wish to convey. Made my week! 🙂

  6. Thank you, Kayla. Your like my personal visiting teacher and your messages are always exactly what I need. I don’t fit the “Mormon” mold . When I received my endowments my mother reminded me that the church is between God and l, not the members. Thanks for reminding me.

  7. Kayla, As I have stated before, life is a spiritual battle from conception until death. satan is fighting for our souls and God sent His Son Jesus to give us eternal life when we choose to make Him our Lord and savior. Acts 2:38, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

    38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

    When we choose to do things God’s way we repent and are born again and then we choose to be baptized in the Name of Jesus for the remission of our sins and then God’s Word says we shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost by speaking in a language we don’t normally speak like Acts 2, 10 and 19 tell us. Acts 20:21, “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Living Word that came to live among us. John 1:14. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” We must always go to the Word of God-Jesus-the Son God who also is the Word for the answer to our spiritual questions. We don’t go by feelings but by God’s Word.

    In regard to the book of Mormon we need to go to Revelation 22:18-22, ” For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

    19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

    20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

    21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

    Our Lord and Savior tells us not to add or take away from the Word of God, the Bible that was written by the inspiration of God, Second Timothy 3:16, ” All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

    17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

    The book of Mormon, the Koran and catholic canons were all written after the Bible. They are in addition to the Bible. God expressly told us in Revelation 22:18 and 19 not to add and take away from the Bible.

    We don’t go by feelings, which in your article you are precisely doing, but by the Word of God. First Peter 5:6-9, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

    7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

    8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

    9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”

    1. by Robert L. Millet

      First of all, it appears that the passages in the Old Testament that warn against such things (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32) are actually warning against adding to the books of Moses, the Pentateuch. This certainly could not have reference to adding to the Old Testament in general, or else we could not in good conscience accept the thirty-four books that follow the Pentateuch. Furthermore, the warning attached to the end of the Revelation of John is a warning against adding to or taking away from “the words of the prophecy of this book” (Revelation 22:18), namely, the Apocalypse. Most important, Latter-day Saints believe that these warnings have to do with the condemnation associated with a man, an uninspired man, a man not called of God, taking upon himself the responsibility to add to or take from the canon of scripture. But it is God’s right to speak beyond what he has spoken already (as he certainly did in the person and messages and works of Jesus himself), and Latter-day Saints feel that God should be allowed to direct and empower his children as need arises. It is not for us to set up bounds and stakes for the Almighty. Nowhere in the Bible itself do we learn that God will no longer speak directly to his children or add to past scripture.

      1. I have never met a Mormon that was mean or rude or unkind, but I have met many Mormons that are deceived. Please go to Ed Decker’s website http://www.saintsalive.com and read his testimony. Do a search on the life of Joseph Smith and contemplate the name of the “angel” that gave Joseph Smith the book of Mormon, moroni.

      2. First, great write-up. I’ve never been a “Mormon.” But most traditions are harmless.

        Second, alkalinebill, if you still haven’t graduated from the Mormonism-as-a-cult class, it’s going to be hard to engage in any objective dialogue. Interesting website though. Very Anti-Latter Day Saint.

    2. First off, hello!

      You may find it odd, but I agree with you about God giving us The Gift of The Holy Ghost. I do not believe that every baptism or reception of The Holy Ghost will result in speaking in tongues, but I do believe that there will be manifestations of the gifts of The Spirit; the fruits.

      As far as Mormons being deceived — I agree with you there as well. Though it has to do more with false traditions in our culture rather than a belief in The Book of Mormon or restoration through Joseph Smith.

      All in all, everyone of us stands in need of peril every hour and ought to turn to our Redeemer and be built upon His rock. If a Mormon is able to find that rock inside Mormonism, wouldn’t you prefer them to stay rather than wonder off into potential darkness and be lost forever?

    3. Wow. Your ignorance and arrogance astound me! You would do well to learn something about the Bible before you just start ranting about what it means, while throwing a variety of unrelated scriptures out there. It is hard to even read. Ed Decker? Really?

    4. Hi, alkalinebill. The passage in Revelations that you are referring to was actually written before several parts of the Bible itself, which using your argument would nullify several parts of the Bible (The Bible is not presented in perfect chronological order). Also, through translation after translation of the Bible, many things have been inadvertently added and taken away, which again, using your argument, would nullify much of the Bible. I guess the only thing I could invite you to do is read some or all of The Book of Mormon, pray about, and see if it is a companion to the Bible. If not, there’s no harm done. If it is, then you get more of God’s word.

  8. Kayla,

    I love reading your articles because they ring true. I have used a number of your thoughts and insights in preparing talks that I have delivered as a high counselor, giving credit of course to your blog. You are doing a great work with your writing. Keep it up and Thank You!

    Paul

  9. Kayla, I loved this article you wrote…very eloquent and heartfelt and true! I can see both you and your sister are very gifted writers:-)

    What amazes me even more is that I came across this through a girl I used to babysit when I was a teenager in Georgia! I saw your picture on her Facebook page and recognized your mom and dad right away and thought, “no way, I know these people!” So fun to have come across something that is so local to where I am through a source so far away from me! Hahaha!

    You are doing a great job sharing the gospel and your testimony to so many people!

  10. I agree whole-heartedly. It’s what happens when we begin to ‘sleep-walk’ through the gospel in our lives. We need to wake up and live the gospel deliberately and consciously.
    However, I would like to offer a word of caution… I live in Utah County, I’m a stay at home Mom. I love cute crafts. I teach RS and try to do all my callings to the best of my ability. I take dinners to people and cookies to new neighbors.
    And I LOVE Pinterest.
    Perhaps on the surface I might look like I’m caught up in ‘the culture’ but there’s more to me than that…
    I’m British, so I have more non-member friends than member friends. I had no ring on my finger when I turned 30, and I honestly could not wait to get out of YSA. I’ve felt the pressure of not (being able to) have a baby straight away.
    I’ve had dinner in pubs and don’t turn my nose up at people because of their choices.
    When a friend told me she was going back to work rather than tend her two kids, my response was, ‘good for you!’ Because I knew her well and knew how stressed she found being at home 24/7.
    I didn’t teach the YW to look for a RM (as I was) – they need to look for a worthy Priesthood Holder. I didn’t teach them (as I was) that Temple Marriage is ‘the goal’. Being worthy Covenant Keepers is the goal. The phrase ‘Families are Forever’ isn’t trite in my life but something sobering and serious because it’s all dependent on how my family and I live our lives – covenant keepers.
    I have a very very long way to go, I’m not perfect by any means. I get mad and yell at my kids, some Sundays I just really want to stay home – church is sooooo long with a little one.
    My point is, I’m sure that to many at a glance I might look ‘Mormon’ but I’m a misfit – you just might need to look more closely. Maybe I’m not even a misfit – I’m just me.
    I’m sure I’m not the only one out there!
    Please make sure to give people a proper chance before deciding whether they are Mormon or Latter-Day Saint 🙂

    1. Loved the original post and this response as well! There are many great conference talks on “testimony vs. conversion” that I’ve been reading lately and relate to this topic that I’ve found helpful also:)

    2. Thank you! You said it much better than I did (see my rant below). I too was unmarried until 35. I had an uncle ( not a church member) who asked me if I was a Lesbian because I was still unmarried (no). A few years ago I felt so out of place at church that I went inactive for a couple of years. But I’ve come to realize that we all (or most of us–maybe the more humble of us?), feel the same way.

      I heard something recently that I find helpful to remember: church is not a museum for saints. It’s a hospital for sinners.

    3. SUCH a great reply, Emma. Thank you! I love Pinterest too, btw 😉 And it’s true that how different we all are, yet how united in what we believe. That’s why I think the feeling of being a misfit rings true for the majority.

  11. Kayla, you’ve nailed it again. Thanks for the reminder. And I really love Emma’s comment. We are all striving, but none of us is perfect. You women are awesome. Both of you.

  12. Over the years, I’ve seen the general authorities make changes to cut down on the ‘culture’ aspects that pop up. This is why we have Relief Society Activities, and not Home Making Meeting – to put the emphasis on adapting to the people in the congregation, and not the traditions of tool-painting and crafts supplies.
    There is far more to the LDS gospel than craft supplies.

  13. Thank you. You have captured something I have been pondering about quite often over the past year. The culture has some great aspects, but the essence of the gospel, the truth and doctrine is what is really important, and sadly, sometimes even gets overshadowed or forgotten amongst the cultural chaos. Sometimes, it is hard to separate the two, but I, too, am trying to be a disciple even if it means not feeling part of the club.

  14. Just a random aside — did you know that, according to the Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic groups, “Mormons” are considered an ethnic group?

  15. Thank you for your post! I have been a member since I was baptized at age eight. I was born in the covenant. My mom is a convert and my dad is a re activated member – way before I was born. I loved the conference talk a few years back that invited all those of us to keep coming to church, we are all needed. I have spent most of my life feeling like an oddball among “Mormons”. It is because I know who I truly am that I have been able to press forward, accept callings, and love the people I serve. It is a problem of mortality that so many, in any religion – or non-religion, tend to form clicks and put pressure on those around them to conform to non-Christ centered expectations. I love that you were able to put this syndrome into perspective in your own unique way. Keep up the good work!

  16. Out of everything you wrote: “There are thousands–maybe millions–of Latter-day Saints who are forced out of a gospel they fit into because a culture whispers to them that they do not. And that has to stop. We need to regain footing of who we are and the beautiful gift we’ve been given.”

    THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS!!! Over and over THIS!

      1. Exactly craftmomma552012! I actually felt a little guilty reading this article because I’m a member who does love the “Mormon culture”. Then I realized I don’t think the “culture” itself is the problem. I think it’s the harsh judging of others (sometimes including ourselves) that is the problem. Anytime that we think we (or someone else) doesn’t fit in, that’s Satan prompting those feelings. He’ll use that sharp little tool anytime he can. Being comfortable in your own skin makes you “fit” in wherever you are.

  17. You are so witty, clever, and have a unique point of view. So sorry that the culture annoys you so much. Love to you and followers. We’ll try harder to not disappoint.

  18. Well written, it’s conversion not culture, but being converted means understanding and reaching out to those that are caught up in the culture and need help being converted.

  19. Wow! Well said,Kayla. I can’t say more. Have been a member since my twenties…decades ago. Suffered the same sentence before finding out how to learn to be a Saint Still learning. The “Mormon” thing turns so many off and away. Living in the PRC (China). Though there are some LDS Chinese , we cannot have any contact with them unless they also have a foreign passport. As a people we had better figure out the difference between Mormon and LDS. These are very smart people and will know the difference between the Gospel and a “club”.

  20. I agree that we should never base our testimonies on the culture of the gospel but I think that we have taken this culture “bashing”, for lack of a better word, too far. The church is the science lab to practice the gospel and people, by providing activities, trying to get to know others and learning empathy, sometimes make mistakes or don’t do it the way we would like but they are TRYING! Are we living the gospel by nit picking and critiquing and criticizing?!? I just wish we could lighten-up and quit taking the luxury of worrying about inconsequential things such as maxi skirts and questions about how many you children you want. People are trying and they don’t mean it. I just vehemently disagree with the victimization that people feel forced out. We’re all hurting but Christ promises if we lose our life we’ll find it.

    1. Thanks TY, I was kind of feeling that way too. Although I agree with what you are saying Kayla, it made me wonder if I should stop being a part of all the culture and concentrate more on myself and my walk. Left me a little confused, and wondering if I have been wasting a lot of my precious time.

    2. I definitely agree here. I completely agree with the article, but I also agree with this comment.
      Perhaps I was just very fortunate to be in diverse wards growing up, where there was no such thing as an “average mormon” family. Sure, there were active parents with lots of kids kids who all came to church and knew their scripture mastery. Musical talent, know how to work sewing machines, go to EFY, the whole bit. Definitely fit the “mold” on the outside. But each family had very unique struggles that were not necessarily visible from the three hours you would see them on Sunday. Family tragedies and death. Family members who left the church. Downs Syndrome. Autism. Drugs. Divorce. Foster kids who were victims of child abuse. Adopted drug babies. Rape victims. Infertility. Yet missionary work more than doubled in less than 4 years and the church is growing in every place I have lived. Because the wards were families. Not just “family wards”. And while yes, there are places where the majority of people in the congregation appear to be in the “typical” culture described in the article, I can promise there is a whole lot more to each of these people than meets the eye. Just as there is more to you than meets the eye. And me.

      I went to school at BYU-I and it used to really annoy me, the trends and styles and habits people brought up from the “mormon bubble”. But boy did I eventually realize I was being judgmental. God has plans for each of us, and knows us all perfectly and loves us more than we know. Everybody has their strengths and weaknesses. There definitely are shallow people out there who are just trying to “fit in” with the “culture”. But really, if that’s all you’re focusing on, then that’s all you’re going to see. When you choose to look for people actively trying to strengthen their testimony, look for people who are trying to seek Christ in the midst of pain and anguish, when you look for people who strive to apply the atonement to their lives every day, you’ll find way more of them than the “typical” people.

      I love this gospel. And you are completely right: Be a disciple. Be a saint. It is the best thing you can do. And it is by far the most rewarding.

      I love that there are people out there who get this. 🙂

  21. Mormon, Latter-day Saint – we aren’t asked to be either of these. Christ didn’t come to earth to give us a name to call ourselves or a big, pretty building decked out with the finest ornaments, chandeliers, vases, and paintings. He came to teach us to love each other, to love everyone, from the richest to the poorest. He didn’t bring religion with its trappings, its ordinances, its piety, its rules, or its laws. He fulfilled the law. He gave us liberty from law and sin so that we can be free to love. He showed us a way to walk.

    1. He called us to be his disciples, yes? You didn’t mention that but maybe you felt it was implied. To be a disciple requires the acceptance of a discipline, which is also a concept that your comment here doesn’t quite touch. I agree with all of that about love, but it is silly to say that Jesus was against organization of His church or against ordinances such as baptism. Maybe I misread you, but a lot of times people adopt their own kind of overt piety when declaring their opposition to “organized religion.” If religion isn’t organized, it will be … disorganized, right? As in unfocused and lacking in unity?

  22. I really liked this post. While culture brings nice traditions, it can also be the source of worldly habits and wrong principles that are in conflict with living a life based on true gospel principles. For example, I have attended several wards in every time, when we talked about those who are inactive there is someone saying that the reason was because they lost their testimony. Everyone just repeats this like a prayer. The reality is that there are many reasons to be inactive and many times, inactive members still have their testimony and believe the church is true.

    By spreading this false belief that people that are inactive lost their testimony, we loose the opportunity to get to know and understand those that need help. This is what I don’t like about false traditions and culture in the church; they don’t bring us closer to Christ and they build barriers among each other. The mist important thing: they don’t let us know what the truth is.

  23. Excellent, excellent article! I’m a convert (I joined when I was 15 after being raised an active Catholic) and over the years I’ve struggled with my place in the culture. There is much good–so much good!–in the fruits the gospel can produce. That’s where we find the roots of our culture. But too many people indulge in what the culture can offer them without asking what the gospel asks that they offer others. This is where loneliness, disillusionment, ostracism, and a lack of cohesiveness start to grow. We can’t be so busy living our culture that we forget to live the gospel through service, prayer, scripture study, faith, and trying every day to grow more like the Savior. That’s the only stuff that matters. Maxi skirts are not a part of that list. I’d point out, too, that anyone who’s worn slippery garments can attest to the horrifying thought that a skirt that goes past one’s knees can be yanked past one’s knees faster than one can tell one’s children, “STOP YANKING ON MY CLOTHES.” I’m the stay-at-home mom who sees a counselor for stress. You totally called it–and that made me laugh out loud.

  24. I grew up in a small town in Utah and as I got older I resented the culture. I thought you had to wear a cowboy hat and cowboy boots and like Western music (among other things) to be a Mormon. As a result, I became inactive in the Church when I was 16. Fortunately (blessed), for me, I moved to Chicago after college and was amazed by the faithful Church members and their diversity. After being converted in Chicago and participating in the Church for many years there and learning the difference between the gospel and the Utah culture, I began to appreciate aspects of the Utah culture that I never appreciated as a youth. Four years ago I moved back to Utah and I did experience some more culture shock, but I have learned to understand and love my Utah Mormons, who served me as Priesthood leaders and Scout leaders, who do so much good and have institutionalized so much of what is good about the gospel in their lives, their families, and their traditions.

  25. I really enjoyed reading your post and totally agree with you. I’ve known that the terms “Latter-Day Saint” and “Mormon” seem to be interchangeable, but I’ve never really realized the symbolism behind them. “Mormon” is more like a nickname, a name created by people. Being “Mormon” is sometimes what people expect us to be, like as you said we become more like a “club”. This is really where the judgmental side of some members comes out. It’s sad when members are judged by other members because they don’t fit “the perfect mold” of how a Mormon should be.

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the name that God gave us, the name that He wanted us to have. To me, Latter Day Saint represents not only our church, but what God wants us to be, what He expects of us. I love your last few lines of your post: “Choose to be a disciple. Choose to be a Saint. Everything else is meaningless.” As long as we are trying to our best to better ourselves and seek to live to please God and not to “please the people”, nothing else matters. Our purpose of this life is not to fit into the “Mormon Mold”.

    1. Great comment! I also have seen that “Mormon Mold” and its sad that sometimes even within the church members judge other members. People need to do exactly that, choose to be a discipe and a saint. Treat everyone kindly and with respect and with that everyone would get along better. We need to get rid of the inner cliques and accept and help anyone who is trying their best to become closer to their savior Jesus Christ.

  26. This is all interesting scriptures you have quoted. Have you ever studied history of biblical times? I am sure you have not. If you have then you would be aware that there are so many books and testimonies that were not compiled into the bible. The bible is a compilation. So I understand your confusion. How about reading it before you say any more against the truth that it holds.

  27. The Book of Mormon was written by Joseph Smith, as was the Mormon Book of Abraham, a misconstrued interpretation of an Egyptian papyrus. The Bible is a compilation of texts that were canonized and which left many writings at the wayside. Today’s world’s religions are a construct based on an Abrahamic model of religion. Even Hinduism and Buddhism have come to be defined by the same model that requires revealed texts, a founder, and prophets to make the cut. The category of religion is a western construct based on European taxonomies when Europe was working, self-consciously, to rationalize imperialism throughout the world. It was through European idealism and hegemony that the category of religion was constructed in the first place. Instead of giving authority to man-made texts, we need to look at religion on-the-ground to understand how religion is articulated. However, who can argue with “revelation” as authority? This is certainly difficult, as Joseph Smith’s Book of Abraham demonstrates. Today’s world religions model relies on a universalized model of religion that gives far too much credence to textual authority to make claims. However, these clean, simplified models often fail to see how people live out their beliefs through practices such as trance and possession, ancestor veneration, and materiality. (Maybe not in the US, but definitely in many cultures throughout the world). All religion is material and embodied. Protestant denominations like Mormonism utilize material objects like a sacred holy book, bread and water for the sacrament, baptisms in elaborate temple fonts, and beautifully designed temples for congregation to materially and physically articulate their beliefs. Acceptance of the material, the here-and-now of this creation is essential to communicate and articulate religion. As far as the LDS church is concerned, I am wary of a top-down model whereby an organization like LDS participates in the modern economy and holds major stocks in corporations like Coca-Cola. The Masonic capitalist practices of the Mormon church allows for the consumption of Coca-Cola, but not coffee. If one does research, they will find that the sugars in Coca-Cola and the caramel colors are far more dangerous to one’s health than a natural bean like coffee. The semiotic ideology of the Mormon church with all of its “whitesome-and-delightsome”-ness is problematic. If truth is eternal, why would God all of a sudden decide that polygamy isn’t okay (the Great Accommodation= Statehood) and that African Americans (Lamanites?) can have the priesthood. I would like to see the church cooperate with intellectuals, feminists, and homosexuals, rather than excommunicate them (send them to hell) like many examples show. I grew up a brown-skinned Mormon in Salt Lake City and find it very difficult to accept the words of a white brotherhood who believes that, in the words of Joseph Smith in the Book of Mormon, all other denominations are “harlots”, “whores”, and “charlatans”. Pretty harsh words if they, in fact, are God’s words.

    1. @ “Joseph Smith”- You state ” in the words of Joseph Smith in the Book of Mormon, all other denominations are harlots, whores, and charlatans”. Could you tell me the what book, and chapter this quote is from???

    2. I think you are trying too hard to intellectualize scripture. Are you trying to convince others or yourself? It comes down to one thing …faith.

  28. I have been saying this for years. As Mormons, we can become very “Law of Moses-ish” in our cultural ways. (Being a convert helps me keep perspective.) The Gospel itself, pure LOVE. Thanks for sharing.

    1. No, Mormons are very Law of Moses in their doctrine, too. They have a priesthood, temple ordinances, dietary restrictions, required clothing. Read the Epistle to the Hebrews. Between chapters 5 and 10, Paul compares the old and the new covenants. Priesthood now rests upon Christ, whose flesh is now the veil. Acts 7:48: God does not dwell in a temple built with hands. A proper understanding between the old and the new covenants is what is missing in Mormonism’s understanding of the Bible.

  29. That’s my brother, Lance Schofield, in white in the baptism picture. Saw this posted on facebook. Small world. That’s awesome.

  30. While I’m pretty sure I understand the sentiment behind the blog post, and in general I agree that we should not be sleepwalking through our lives and be more involved spiritually, I have some real issues with the comments and some of the allegations. Please recognize this is spoken out of love and not any condemnation – I recognize that I may come off that way, but hat is not my intention. And I will note that I am a convert as well, and joined old enough to know other options and ideas.
    First off, while I’m one of the first people who am not excited about haw many RelSo meetings are dedicated to crafts (how many more painted pieces of wood do I need to catch dust) and would rather they be a little more productive (really, while it is out of style, some preparedness skills would be nice, and things like how to actually live out of those cans of wheat that we buy and store could be useful), I have no question about what they are for and what they do. The primary purpose is to build relationships and a community. And when someone asks newlyweds when that are going to have a baby, they are really saying “I love you, and want you to know I’m thinking about you.” I suppose you can bristle about it if you choose, but that is your choice, bot the person saying it. The thing about offense is that no one can really give it, we can only take it. It’s a bit of a selfish thing really – it’s an inward focus on yourself. I have a close family member that joined the Church and struggles with smoking. He knows he shouldn’t do it, and it bothers him. When he goes to Church, he is absolutely sure everyone is looking down at him because of the smell. And maybe a few are. But in reality, most people are glad he’s there and making the attempt. But that chip on his shoulder keeps him from attending. It’s not the culture that keeps him away, but his own unnecessary fear.
    See, I suspect some of those “cultural” things that force out “thousands–maybe millions–of Latter-day Saints” of the Gospel they fit into, may really not just be cultural.
    Ultimately, before passing judgment on the members of the Church because they are part of a community, it’s good to recognize that we are all on a journey, and are at different points of that journey. And sometimes there are ebbs and flows. I’m just glad people are there and going through the motions at least, because maybe they will gain some spirituality on the way.
    And lastly, I do resent the way you’re using the term “Mormon.” I recognize that some people use the term negatively, but it is not, nor should we use it that way and allow it to be used that way. It becomes fuel for folks like the imposter above using the pseudonym “Joseph Smith” who thinks he “knows” all these things about the Church, like how it holds stock in Coca-Cola and so allows us to drink Coke and not Coffee, even though they are complete falsehoods and misunderstandings of history. I for one am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and I am a Mormon. I am proud of the Mormon community and family that I have been adopted into.

    1. I’m with you, Rick Chappell. We all just need to lighten up and love each other as Christ has asked us to do. Don’t always assume other’s motives are questionable. Give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s Satan who encourages us to feel slighted by others even when no harm was meant.” Remember be kind, everyone you meet is carrying a heavy burden.”

    2. Lets see what an apostle has to say on the matter of calling ourselves mormons:

      M. RUSSELL BALLARD – October 2011 General Conference –

      “While Mormon is not the full and correct name of the Church, and even though it was originally given by our detractors during our early years of persecution, it has become an acceptable nickname when applied to members rather than the institution. We do not need to stop using the name Mormon when appropriate, but we should continue to give emphasis to the full and correct name of the Church itself. In other words, we should avoid and discourage the term “Mormon Church.”

      Through the years as I have filled assignments around the world, I have been asked many times if I belong to the Mormon Church. My response has been, “I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ. Because we believe in the Book of Mormon, which is named after an ancient American prophet-leader and is another testament of Jesus Christ, we are sometimes called Mormons.” In every instance this response has been well received and in fact has opened up opportunities for me to explain the Restoration of the fulness of the gospel in these latter days.”

      She is using the term Mormon the way that M. Russell Ballard is using it.

      Be careful what you say, by going against the apostles, you are sewing seeds of apostasy.

      Joesph Smith was a Latter Day Saint. Parly P Pratt was a Mormon

  31. While you may have some valid points, this article makes you sound a little “holier than thou”. When people ask you about missions or babies, they’re trying to be friendly and get to know you. You don’t have to answer and you don’t have to be offended. They ask because they’re interested, not trying to condemn you. The Pinterest inspired invitations are nothing new–my mom was making them back in the 60s. If it’s not your thing, don’t do it. But don’t condemn those of us who do. Our faith is just as strong as yours. You have no more right to call us out on it, than anyone else has for making you feel “different.” Our culture is informed by our faith, by the doctrines we are required to live, not the other wy around. If we have an absurd number of “crafty” people, is that a bad thing? I’ve been hanging out at Pinterest, Cratsy, and Etsy for a while now, as well as several digital scrapbooking sites. While there is a strong “relief society” faction at all of them, they are mostly NOT mormon women.

    also, i LIKE havin a wall hanging of Families Are Forever above my door. It helps me remember this earth life is only temporary. i will not only see my parents again someday, but my broken family can be made whole again.
    i also have “go forth wirh Faith” and “return with Honor” on the front door to help me remember my purpose in life.

    i’m sorry you dont like our culture. i’ve lived in a lot of wards. California and Oregon bwfore moving to Utah. the church is really the same every you go, including the culture. that tells me that is based more on our beliefs than you give it credit for. the “epectarions” are more gaurdrails than boundariea. wearing modest clothing keeps the worldy fashions from creeping into my closet. participating in Reluef Society, roadshow, stake plays, ward dinners, etc., gives me a social circlw with the same beliefs i have. the thing I like most about living in Utah? not having to explain whT i’m talking about all thw rime. thw alredy know about Girls Camp and Eldwrs Quorum dinners.

    Call me Mormon if you want to. I know who I am and I don’t need a politically correct label to remind me.

    1. craftmomma, This blog post was never meant to belittle or offend. On the contrary. I think we have a diverse, amazing melting pot of saints in the church and everyone can bring something to the table. But it would do us all good (Myself included) to always go back to the rock and remember the doctrine and the simple truths of why we’re here in this beautiful church and why we TRULY belong. I use the term Mormon all the time, but it’s important to differentiate between culture and gospel and not feel bad when we don’t align with things that aren’t part of the great work. We’re all so beautifully different, like you said 🙂

      P.S. Thanks for spotting out what might be contrived as “holier than thou” but I can assure you that that judgment is far from the truth. Actually, sometimes I don’t feel up to par at all. And my blog and all my amazing readers constantly remind me that we’re all in it together and there ARE people who won’t condemn others for different points of view and I have something to contribute too, even if I may know less.

  32. “…I wondered briefly where the crosses were.”
    Why are crosses necessary for a people who pride themselves so much in the works they do and how busy their lives are. But the Apostle Paul said in Galatians 6:13-15, “For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.”

    http://downtownministries.blogspot.com/2014/06/deceived.html

    1. David,

      On most every LDS themed article RCR posts you parade your wisdom of LDS thought and belief. You boast how much you know because you’ve got some Mormon pioneer ancestors or something. Yet your posts are always the same hyperbole or cut and paste, mined quotes usually taken out of context. So just keep telling us what we think and feel as Latter-day Saints, David. I suppose it doesn’t matter how you twist it since you’ve “confessed with your mouth” and all. Jesus has you covered no matter what you say or do.

  33. Thank you for your article. I have also struggled with the concept of the Gospel and culture. To me the culture is the interpretation and implementation of the Gospel by men and therefore WILL be imperfect and flawed. Just an example: A prophet can receive a vision or communication from heaven and have a perfect understanding at the time of the vision but as soon as he is out of the “spirit” he is then limited by his humanness. The message will to some degree become corrupted when he communicates with others either by the limitations of the prophet or the receiver. The point being is that we must figure out what is the real objective of out current existence. To me it is not to become a slave to a bunch of rules. The rules are not an end unto themselves but a means to an end. As Christ said that the law is based on 2 commandments. For me the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a framework of learning how to love and interact with one another period. Anything that takes away from this should be looked at with skepticism.

  34. Interestingly, I once taught a Gospel Doctrine class, during which I asked,
    “How many here are Mormons?”
    “OK, good. Now, how many here are Latter-day Saints?”
    OK, good. Now, how many her are Christians?”
    A few people got it. Alas, many did not. Some took umbrage.

  35. In that wonderful book of scripture, the Doctrine and Covenants, in the 84th section, God told Joseph Smith this:

    (Starting with verse 20) Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.

    21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;

    22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.

    Whether I call myself a Latter-day Saint, or a Mormon, I must never forget that the entire purpose of the Restoration is to provide and administer saving ordinances as commanded by God, the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, so that the Holy Ghost may testify of Christ’s atonement and fill us with resolve to follow him and to strive always to remember Him so that we may always have his Spirit to be with us.

    Every action in the Church should point us to and encourage us to follow Christ and partake of the crucial ordinances he has provided so that we may one day “see his face and live.” If sewing maxi skirts in Relief Society helps one sister in that activity to look unto Christ and recommit to standards that lead her to the ordinances, whether she is a member or non-member, it is a worthwhile activity. If it does not, something else should take its place. However, since I am not entitled to revelation for the ward’s Relief Society, I have covenanted with God not to judge their activities. Rather, I will act in the offices and callings appointed to me, as a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a church worker a friend, to gain and keep the Spirit of God through faithful attendance, participation, prayer, scripture study, and keeping the promises I make. When I make mistakes, and I do often, I will repent, ask forgiveness of those I offend, and continue in my striving to keep the covenants I have made, and help others to come to Christ though ordinances for the living and the dead.

    1. God can manifest his power any way He wants and through whom he wants. There are many non LDS people that have received manifestations of God’s power. The church and the priesthood are given to man to come closer to God and if this is not happening then what difference does any ordinance make. Christ made it part of His mission to violate the rules of His time to make the point that the law was a means to an end and not an end unto itself.

  36. This was perfect. I think that every person, member or non-member should read this. Thank you for your incredible insight and words of wisdom.

  37. Reblogged this on Life Faith 'n' Family and commented:
    I love how the culture and faith and distinguished from one another. There is more to being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints than watching G-rated movies, not swearing, and otherwise Mormon culturalisms. It’s about being a disciple of Jesus Christ. A disciple follows the Savior’s example of charity, love, faith, and obedience. It’s about progression into something better than we were before. It’s not only about improvement, it’s about reaching our potential that is divinely inherited from God Himself. That is why I am a Latter-day Saint, and not a Mormon.

    1. One common trait of cultic religions is that they first and foremost change the nature of who God is. This is true with Mormonism from what I can tell. Christ said, “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me”. Jesus made it clear in scripture that he was God in human flesh. Everything that I have learned about Mormonism seems to mock the nature of who Jesus Christ is, and who he claimed to be. Jesus Christ died on the cross for the remission of our sins, so that those who believe in his redeeming work will be saved to eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven. That is Christianity, and though no one usually says it, Mormonism is offensive because it bastardizes basic Christian doctrine. I would ask all Mormons to stop playing pretend, and learn what the true scriptures of Christianity teach us.

      1. I’m not going to fight with you. We believe Jesus Christ to be part of the Godhead, which consists of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. We believed that He suffered in Gethsemene for our sins, and gave his life that we may liberated from the bonds of physical and spiritual death. We are Christian because we believe and trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior and ultimate exemplar. Not because some guys in the Vatican decided was a Christian was.

      2. Who defines Christian doctrine? A religion? I think you believe Christ should right? LDS believe that through -and only through- the atonement of Christ they can be saved. Christ also had the power to perform the ordinances that allow us to return to Him. The difference between the LDS faith and other Christian faiths is they actually have this power. Which what makes “Mormonism” so wonderful — it’s the only church that “houses” the one true gospel. Which why it is more accurate to say the gospel is true than the church is true.

      3. If you were to find out the history of the Christian doctrine you espouse, ie. the council of Nicea, and if you were truly honest about learning that your doctrine is really man made, you might not be so quick to judge something you know very little about.

  38. Hi, I never leave any comments or anything, but I wanted to express how I appreciate this post. I have never been able to fit in with mormons. Maybe because I grew up with brothers and had more tomboy characteristics than any other mormon girl I’ve met. I get looked down on for having almost all male friends, (none of which I go anywhere alone with) and looked down for having different ideas for my career instead of looking forward to being settled down already and having lots of kids. I’m only 19! I plan to be financially stable by myself before getting married, let alone have kids.
    Seminary was near impossible because I was the only girl who didn’t live in the neighborhood and therefore knew no one else to the teachers and students that treated each other like family. I am forever grateful for my last seminary teacher who actually reached out for me unlike the other teachers I had. At that point I was nearly fed up for being excluded and looked down upon by my seminary peers for not following their norms or keeping up with the activities they had. This seminary teacher actually helped me feel like a part of their neighborhood-church-family instead of looking down on me as well.
    Your post describes the irritation I had for a whole year with the mormon culture, feeling pressured into being like them and if I wasn’t then I was some alien figure to them. It’s in that year that I’ve made my own journey away from the gospel because I had mixed LDS and mormons together. From there I’ve seen and experienced things that made me realize that being different from a religion doesn’t mean it affects my relationship with God.
    This year I’m attending institute and it’s probably the best decision I’ve made. Even though I do keep myself held at a distance from the people who treat each other like family, my experience there hasn’t been lessen from learning about the gospel again. I’ve starting reading Doctrine and Covenants again, maybe I’ll start praying again. I know I keep throwing around the word ‘mormons’ as if it were a bad taste in your mouth, but I don’t think of it that way. Either way, I’m hopeful I understand the mormon culture and mostly likely not conform to it, but hopefully come to appreciate it again.

    1. Thank you Elizabeth. I’m so glad you decided to go to Institute. Sometimes it takes courage to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and strive to do things that are often hard. You inspire me!

  39. Good article. Not strong enough! Most of the comments are from “Mormons”. The Ed Decker dupes are of no consequence. As a ward mission leader in my ward I deal constantly with having to help bring prospective members to Jesus Christ. The “mormon” thing and culture is constantly getting into our way. First and foremost. There is no such legal entity as The Mormon Church. Mormonism is not just another definition for The Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am a ‘convert” but I was also a Christian when I was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am not and have never been a Mormon. I am not of Utah Pioneer stock as you Utahan’s use the word. I am of Pioneer stock nevertheless. I am just as proud of my heritage as you Utah Mormons are of yours. I live in Texas. Not the “mission field” as the Utah Mormons describe anywhere outside of Zion. Yes, our ward relief society is also in the thick of thin things with walking groups, shootem ups, sister luncheons, etc. Yes, our young men spend more time with scouting than they do learning how to be serviceable priesthood holders. No, we do not have crosses in our building to remind us of Christ’s suffering for us. We have basketball goals and gyms to remind us what is of true value in this Church. Now, the brethren, notwithstanding Elder Ballard’s conference address and Elder Packers conference address of a while back, have spent a lot of money producing “MEET THE MORMONS”. So, I realized I am outmanned and outgunned when it comes to trying to convince Mormons to use the true name of Christ’s Church and to refer to themselves as Saints, Latter-day Saints, Christians, or followers of Christ. As long as the Church is run and operated out of Utah things will never change. I fully expect to read a constant dribble of mormon-babble (out of love, of course)
    because the Utah crowd with their Distribution Center smiles and voices–and for the men, the ability to cry on cue–are totally devastated that I would speak against the Lord’s anointed and their beloved culture. I love the Brethren and support them. Especially when they act and speak like Latter-day Saints and not Mormons. As a friend of mine said one time at a lesson on Missionary work, “You want to know why I am so darned happy? I’m a mormon!”

    1. Wow. I’ve lived in Utah now for five years and have NEVER heard the rest of the world referred to as ‘the mission field’.
      Makes me wonder whether the assumptions are being made about ‘Utah Mormons’ based on prejudices and stereotypes – you know, the way some people still think we practice polygamy… Maybe there are people out there who think that Utah Mormons look down their noses at everyone else.
      This has really not been my experience living here at all!

      1. Yes, Emma! Thank you! I grew up in Utah and never heard the term “mission field” in reference to the “rest” of the church until I moved out of Utah.

        (The following was copied from my FB wall) This blog post was well-meant, but will only contribute to an us/them mentality that is not helpful. First of all, what an insult to the prophet Mormon to associate his name only with parts of a culture that you do not like. He was a faithful representative of Jesus Christ and doesn’t deserve to have his name smeared that way. The “antis” do enough of that already. We should defend it. I also think it’s pretty silly for a bunch of members to think that that term should be shunned when the church itself sees fit to use it to represent our faith every day. Anyone ever heard of Mormon.org or the whole “I am a Mormon” campaign? Mormon.org is not a site for celebrating cultural flaws that exist in some regions of the church. What about Ann Dibb’s talk about “I am a Mormon. I know it. I live it. I love it.”? Should someone set her straight? There are beautiful men and women all over the globe who proudly call themselves Mormons who have nothing to do with the parts of the culture that this author dislikes (and no, I’m not going to get into a discussion about whether the term “proud” is the same thing as “prideful. It’s not. Just ask President Uchtdorf). I am a Latter-Day Saint AND a Mormon. Yes, I know what the author was getting at, but I think she missed the mark.

        As one friend said on Facebook in response to this blog post, “[W]e have all been blessed with different talents, we will also show our interest and devotion to the church in different ways. No, these things are not necessarily proportionate to one’s devotion to the gospel itself, but there is certainly no justification in putting them down, or those who enjoy participating in them. Aren’t we supposed to seek for all things lovely and praiseworthy?”

        I don’t fit the jello-mold, either, but I don’t condemn those who do. I really do understand the effort to differentiate between the politically incorrect aspects of the culture, if you will, and the actual doctrine, but I don’t like the separation of terms. It was a nice attempt that fell on it’s face by putting down members who are steeped in that aspect of the culture, for better or for worse. Some of the best saints I know are the Pinterest-ing, canning sisters. I don’t fit that mold, never have (enrichment nights are torture for me), but I love the sisters who do. I used to resent them, because it made me feel better, and it was the cool thing to do in order to show how much I’m NOT one of those “Utah Mormons” – but I’ve now rejected what, for me, was a very condescending attitude. No, she didn’t use that term, but we all know it’s the preferred moniker of anyone who has embraced the homemaking aspect of the culture.

        Though I don’t deny that there are cultural traditions in some areas of the church that can contribute to a notion of exclusivity, (I’ve been the target of insensitive comments, seen false doctrine preached in Institute classes and Sunday School, and seen at least 3 friends leave the church very recently who couldn’t separate the culture from the doctrine), we have to look past those cultural quirks and see their hearts, just as “they” have to look past the areas where WE differ to see our hearts. I think that’s part of what this sister was trying to say, but I think she could have done it without seeming so judgmental of the canners, and pinners, and such. I know there are some who are just cultural Mormons, but you can’t lump all who participate in some aspects of the culture into that category. I’ve actually come to really resent the put-downs aimed at anything deemed culturally incorrect (ooo, new term…). Yes, I’ll have to work on that. I have my own quarrels with plenty of traditions among the members, but time spent examining what I see as the faults of some of my fellow saints is time I could be spending loving them and working on my own problems.

        I reject the notion that there is a Mormon mold, and those who feel the pressure to fit into one are buying a lie that there *is* one. The green-jello culture is just one aspect of one niche in a diverse group of people. Just because I don’t fit in with them doesn’t mean I can’t love an appreciate what they bring to the table, even if it wobbles and has shredded carrots in it… I just bristle a bit at this stuff because I’ve seen it become such a big deal to some people that they left the church all together. If some folks can’t find their own niche and be fine with it and look beyond the words of the – sometimes insensitive – jello factions to see into their good hearts and good intentions, then that is the problem of those who are doing the condemning of those canners, etc.

        This whole attitude of who the “true” saints are is a prideful contest that can have no good outcome. I hear people all the time put down “Utah Mormons,” and I tried for years to assure people that I was not one of “them,” despite my upbringing in Utah. I held out my convert father and the lessons he taught my brothers and me about how to be more a more broad-minded member as evidence of my credentials as a true Latter-Day Saint, unlike “those people.” (Not that there aren’t some real benefit and truths learned from having a “convert” father that I maybe wouldn’t have learned otherwise, but my motivations for bringing those things up were awful) I ate my first helping of crow when I realized that Utah has the highest baptism rate in the church, and that’s adjusted for population density. The percentages are amazing. Many of those “Utah Mormons,” despite their cultural flaws, must be doing *something* right. I realized that those who put down one aspect of the culture are no better than the ones whom they are rejecting. I think we HAVE to get beyond all the cultural categorizing and cleve semantics battles that I’ve seen lately among bloggers.

        I KNOW what she was trying to do, I just *really* disagree with how she went about it. I always try to use the term Latter-Day Saint and remind people that “Mormon” is a nickname, but I don’t reject the term. I embrace it! This kind of blog post will only contribute to the cultural wars, the us/them battles that go on in the online church every day. We NEED each other! We can’t waste time cutting down how others in the church live just to make ourselves feel like we belong. We can belong anyway. We do belong! We have to eliminate that us/them mentality. I guess maybe the author would argue that she didn’t mean to put down those who do fit that jello-mold, but in trying to point out how she has felt accidentally side-swiped by those well-meaning members, she managed to do exactly that right back at those with whom she differs. Does noticing this make me a little over-sensitive, just like the gal whose blog post I’ve criticized today (who’s posted other things I’ve loved)? Probably. Irony abounds.

        (Sorry for the long comment, but this one touched a nerve, I guess).

      2. Brooke, thank you for your comment. It is exactly what I wanted to say. Having grown up in Oregon and California, I heard all my life about Utah Mormons and how self-righteous they were. But i did not find that to be true when I moved to Utah 15 years ago. The people here are just like the people I left back home. They are sincere, friendly, and welcoming. I don’t find the culture to be that different either, except that I don’t have to explain myself when talking about church-related things. Even most of the non-members know something about Mormons and things like Relief Society. I love living in Utah.

        Thanks, again.

    2. Brooke, I’m giving you a standing ovation. But only in my head because otherwise that would just make me look silly 😉

  40. Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m 25 and not married. While that isn’t really that old I find myself feeling like I’m being judged by others. “What is wrong with her? Why isn’t she married yet?”. I already judge myself enough for the world. I’m not unmarried by choice, I just haven’t found the right guy yet. But I still go to church faithfully, magnify my callings and do my best to live as a disciple of Christ. So I shouldn’t be looked at any different then any other member. So I with you choose to be a Latter-day Saint, not a mormon! Seriously, thank you.

  41. It’s a nice sentiment Kayla, but it seems a bit hypocritical given your past posts about Mormon Feminists and those that don’t fit into what you think are acceptable norms in the LDS world. Once you judge others for their testimony or obedience you become just another obnoxious Mormon who doesn’t actually know why others would be pushing for change in the LDS Church. If you knew why, you would probably take back every word you said, then I might believe you are a latter-day saint, and not just a mormon.

    1. Hypocritical? Yikes.

      Did you even read the whole article? Kayla even says and I quote

      “I know the terms are interchangeable, and I often use the term Mormon, just like you probably do. There’s no harm in that and I’m not splitting hairs. But for the purpose of my story I would venture to say that those two terms mean totally separate things. From being in the church only 5 years, I already would bet my life on it.”

      The idea is that we should be in the church for the Gospel of Jesus Christ not the culture of being Mormon. It’s very simple.

      Keep writing young lady! You’re doing great!

  42. I am here to tell you as a former active and proud Mormon woman, it is all about GOD’s love and grace and not one thing you can do on your own to be acceptable to Him. There is no need to clean up your act before you are baptized. You are unable to clean yourself. Only Jesus can do that FOR you! He is the propitiation for our sins. There is nothing we can do to become acceptable and worthy of GOD’s love and grace He freely extends to us as His beloved children. Acknowledge Jesus Christ is indeed Immanuel (GOD in the flesh dwelling among us) and you need not look to works to be saved.

  43. I really enjoyed this read and know what you’re talking about. At least in my experience, much of what you describe in relation to Mormon culture I would say is primarily among Utah Mormons and Mormons in the West (Idaho, CA, CO, AZ). I think most of the church population outside of these areas knows very little about RS handouts, quilting projects, missionary farewell parties, ripe age for marriage, and the like. If there are people throughout the world that seem to follow Utah Mormon culture, it’s usually because that area had some Mormons from Utah (or the west) move there, and the traditions were “transmitted” to the locals.

  44. I refuse to be “from Utah” specifically because the associated cultural baggage and the stereotypical assumptions people frequently make because of it. Although raised LDS, I did not move to Utah until I was nearly 16. I moved frequently before this due to my father’s military service. Coming to Utah was THE BIGGEST CULTURE SHOCK of my life. It was a tremendously difficult adjustment because I didn’t fit in, despite the fact that I have always been a devout member of the church. I’ve since learned that I can often find what I am looking for, and there are many good LDS people here who are sincerely trying to live the faith without being constrained by the culture. I’ve also learned that I, too must be forgiving of other’s mistakes. In retrospect, the dust up I got into with my former RS president (and dear friend) over whether or not our church building had (or ought to have had) a baptismal font is really quite hilarious. I always assumed every church building did (excepting the rentals, converted homes, etc I’ve been in). We all have things to learn =).

    I also miss my association with many good people outside of the faith. I have non-member friends, but things seem different here as though there is always an underlying current of suspicion about my motives for friendship. The same can be said of the less-active folks I associate with. If I even hint at church (which is an integral part of MY life), the conversation seems to come to a screeching halt. Utah is a great place, but there sure are some strange quirks.

  45. I would encourage everyone to check out. “unveiling Grace”. You can find it on YouTube and get the book. God loves us! It is the responsibility for each of us personally to seek and search and create a personal relationship with God. He will reveal to you His plan for you. Question doctrine, culture, ordinances. Don’t blindly follow – But seek His truth. Read , study, seek and know His Truth…… God loves you,

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