21 Questions about Mormonism – Part 2

Does the Mormon Church believe that women can only gain access to heaven with a special pass or codewords?

Does the Mormon Church believe that women must serve men on both Earth and in heaven?

Is there such a thing as Mormon “underwear”? if so, are all Mormons required to wear it? What does it symbolize?

Does the Mormon Church believe in the existence of another physical planet or planets, where Mormons will “rule” after their death and ascension?

What specifically does the Mormon Church say about African-Americans and Native Americans?

What are or were the “Golden Plates”?

Are consumption of alcohol and tobacco prohibited or simply discouraged?

Does the Church also ban the consumption of “hot drinks”? And does that apply specifically to caffeinated drinks?

Why do Mormons go from door to door?

What do the Mormons believe about the family?

Can someone who may never marry in life have eternal marriage?

Summary

In the midst of the publicity storm surrounding Mormonism FOX News at the end of 2007 compiled a list of 21 questions to put to The Mormon Church. The Church objected to answering some of the questions on the grounds that they misrepresent the basic tenets of the Mormon religion.

Qu. “Many of these questions are typically found on anti-Mormon blogs or Web sites which aim to misrepresent or distort Mormon doctrines,” the church said in a statement. “Several of these questions do not represent … any serious attempt to depict the core values and beliefs of its members.”

You may judge for yourself whether the questions are fair and whether they have answered or evaded them. However, Mormons have traditionally revelled in the title “peculiar people” so it does seem churlish to complain when others ask about those things that mark them out as peculiar. We continue here to look at the questions (Q) and answers (A) with comments (C) and quotes (Qu.):

Q: Does the Mormon Church believe that women can only gain access to heaven with a special pass or codewords?

A: No.

Qu. “In the divine economy, as in nature, the man “is the head of the woman,” and it is written that “he is the savior of the body.” But “the man is not without the woman” any more than the woman is without the man, in the Lord. Adam was first formed, then Eve. In the resurrection, they stand side by side and hold dominion together. Every man who overcomes all things and is thereby entitled to inherit all things, receives power to bring up his wife to join him in the possession and enjoyment thereof.

 In the case of a man marrying a wife in the everlasting covenant who dies while he continues in the flesh and marries another by the same divine law, each wife will come forth in her order and enter with him into his glory.”  (“Mormon” Doctrine Plain and Simple, or Leaves from the Tree of Life, (Mormon apostle Charles W. Penrose, p.66, 1897, Salt Lake City)

Qu.Do the women, when they pray, remember their husbands?… Do you uphold your husband before God as your lord? “What!—my husband to be my lord?” I ask, Can you get into the celestial kingdom without him? Have any of you been there? You will remember that you never got into the celestial kingdom [during the temple ceremony] without the aid of your husband. If you did, it was because your husband was away, and someone had to act proxy for him. No woman will get into the celestial kingdom, except her husband receives her, if she is worthy to have a husband; and if not, somebody will receive her as a servant.”  (Mormon apostle Erasmus Snow, Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 291)

C. When Mormons attend the temple for their “endowments” they go through a ceremony in which they are brought to “the veil”, a representation of the veil between this world and the next. Someone stands on the other side of the veil representing God and there is a rehearsal of what is expected to happen when we pass from this life. The Mormon candidate repeats certain words and signs to gain entry “through the veil.” When Mormons get married in the temple this part of the endowment ceremony is rehearsed as part of the marriage ceremony with the husband taking the place of God “behind the veil” who leads his wife through the veil. Hence Erasmus Snow’s teaching that “No woman will get into the celestial kingdom, except her husband receives her.”>

Not only do Mormon women need to have passwords but they need the permission of their husband to access heaven.

Q: Does the Mormon Church believe that women must serve men on both Earth and in heaven?

A:Absolutely not. Mormons believe that women and men are complete equals before God and in relation to the blessings available in the Church.

Qu. “But if we have a heavenly Mother as well as a heavenly Father, is it not right that we should worship the Mother of our spirits as well as the Father? No; for the Father of our spirits is at the head of His household, and his wives and children are required to yield the most perfect obedience to their great Head. It is lawful for the children to worship the King of Heaven, but not the ‘Queen of heaven.’… we are nowhere taught that Jesus prayed to His heavenly Mother…” (Mormon apostle Orson Pratt, The Seer, page 159)

Mormon men expect to obtain to the role described here as the role of “the Father” or God. Mormon women, then, take the role of “heavenly Mother”, yielding “the most perfect obedience to their great Head.” See also the previous answer.

Q: Is there such a thing as Mormon “underwear”? if so, are all Mormons required to wear it? What does it symbolize?

A: Like members of many religious faiths, Latter-day Saints wear religious clothing. But members of other faiths — typically those involved in permanent pastoral ministries or religious services — usually wear religious garments as outer ceremonial vestments or symbols of recognition. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, garments are worn beneath street clothing as a personal and private reminder of commitments to God.

Garments are considered sacred by Church members and are not regarded as a topic for casual conversation.

C: The Mormon temple garment is issued to each Mormon when they go through their first temple endowment ceremony. It carries significant Masonic marks that mirror marks on the temple veil referred to earlier. Mormons wear these garments at all times, and they act as a continuous reminder of covenants made in the temple. To not wear your temple garment is as serious an offence as can be imagined. It is a first class method of control since its presence acts as a constant reminder and sort of “silent policeman”. In a person’s most private and intimate moments its presence is a check on the wearer and can be like a bridle, reflecting perhaps the power and control leaders wish to have and their lack of trust in their followers.

It imposes someone else’s definition of modesty in that you have to wear clothes that cover the substantial (neck to knee) garment. This has been problematic for the church down the years as the design of the garment which, like so much Mormon doctrine and praxis was considered unchangeable, has changed, from a neck to ankle one piece item to a neck to knee two pieces, to reflect changes in fashions. It also encourages an elitist attitude in followers who regard themselves as “in” because of their involvement in secret ceremonies and their wearing of special clothing compared to others who don’t “know” as Mormons know. In this sense it forms a real barrier on several levels.

Q: Does the Mormon Church believe in the existence of another physical planet or planets, where Mormons will “rule” after their death and ascension?

No.

Qu. “In the Heaven where our spirits were born there are many Gods, each one of whom has his own wife or wives, raises up a numerous family of sons and daughters… each father and mother will be in a condition to multiply forever and ever. As soon as each God has begotten many millions of male and female spirits, and his Heavenly inheritance becomes too small, to comfortably accommodate his great family, he, in connection with his sons, organizes a new world, after a similar order to the one which we now inhabit, where he sends both the male and female spirits to inhabit tabernacles of flesh and bones…. The inhabitants of each world are required to reverence, adore, and worship their own personal father who dwells in the Heaven which they formerly inhabited.”  (Mormon apostle Orson Pratt, The Seer, March 1853, pp. 37-39)

C. In the most fundamental way this describes the Mormon Plan of Salvation, the plan by which God himself became God according to Mormonism. God made this planet to accommodate his spirit children (us) and faithful Mormons will go on to create and inhabit their own planets, which will be populated by their spirit children who will, in turn, worship them – and the whole process starts again. The answer, then, is that there are, or will be planets which Mormons expect to rule after their death and ascension.

Q: What specifically does the Mormon Church say about African-Americans and Native Americans?

A: Mormons believe that all mankind are sons and daughters of God and should be loved and respected as such. The blessings of the gospel are available to all.

Qu.Though he was a rebel and an associate of Lucifer in pre-existence, and though he was a liar from the beginning whose name was Perdition, Cain managed to attain the privilege of mortal birth… he came out in open rebellion, fought God, worshipped Lucifer, and slew Abel…

As a result of his rebellion, Cain was cursed with a dark skin; he became the father of the Negroes, and those spirits who were not worthy to receive the priesthood are born through his lineage.” (Mormon Doctrine, Mormon apostle Bruce R. McConkie, 1958, p.102)

Qu.And after the flood we are told that the curse that had been pronounced upon Cain was continued through Ham’s wife, as he had married a wife of that seed.  And why did it pass through the flood?  Because it was necessary that the devil should have a representation upon the earth as well as God” (Mormon prophet John Taylor, Journal of Discourse, vol.22, p.304)

C. In summary then, Mormons traditionally teach and believe that in the pre-existence blacks were the least valiant.  Because of their unfaithfulness they were assigned to be born to an inferior race through the lineage of Cain.  Their black skin is the Mark of Cain, an emblem of eternal darkness and a representation of the devil upon the earth.  Being inferior, they were not entitled to the full blessings of the gospel, denied the priesthood, and barred from the temple.

The earliest example of this doctrine in the Mormon Church is to be found in the Book of Mormon story of the Nephites and the Lamanites, forebears of Native Americans according to traditional Mormon teaching.  The Lamanites, having rebelled, were cursed with a dark skin.

“… as they were white, and exceeding fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.

And because of their cursing which was upon them they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety…” (BOM, 2 Nephi 5:21-24)

C. On the basis of this teaching only white people were allowed full participation in the church until social pressure made the church change its policy in 1978. The teaching illustrated above is substantial and extensive and still integral to Mormonism, enshrined in Mormon scripture and, in spite of what Mormonism does in relation to black people, it says something different in its official documents and historical statements and has never renounced or repented of this teaching.

Q: What are or were the “Golden Plates”?

A: The Book of Mormon was translated by Joseph Smith from records made on plates of gold, similar to metal plates that have been found in other ancient cultures. It contained a history of peoples in the Western Hemisphere including an appearance by the Savior to them. As such, the Book of Mormon is considered a second testimony of Jesus Christ.

C: The Bible lays great store by eyewitness accounts and Christians have always appreciated authentic testimony. In the Bible we have Luke’s carefully researched account of events “just as they were handed down to us by those who from were eyewitnesses and servants of the word” (Lk.1:1-4). Luke tells how he “carefully investigated everything from the beginning.”

John declared, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory…” and later wrote:

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have look at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it…We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard…” (Jn.1:14; 1 Jn.1:1-4)

Paul wrote that Jesus “appeared to more than five hundred at one time, most of whom (at the time of writing) are still alive” (1 Cor.15:6)


These people established the largest religion in the world and went on, many of them, to die for their witness. Jesus said of his inner core of witnesses, “not one has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled” (Jn.17:12)

While Jesus’ resurrection was witnessed by hundreds, the Gold Plates had a very select group of witnesses. First there were three, all of whom denied and/or changed their story about seeing the Gold Plates and were all excommunicated from the church. There were only going to be three “witnesses” because Doctrine and Covenants 5:11-15 clearly states that there would only be three. But since these three proved so thoroughly unreliable Joseph Smith picked another eight. Of the twelve three were Smith’s and five were Whitmer’s. All left the church except Joseph Smith’s father and two brothers. There is, then, no credible evidence for the Gold Plates from which Smith claimed to translate the Book of Mormon so we can say with confidence that there were no Gold Plates.

As a postscript it is interesting that Joseph Smith began with three witnesses and ended with eleven witnesses because he subsequently laid great store by copying Jesus in having twelve apostles.

Q: Are consumption of alcohol and tobacco prohibited or simply discouraged?

A: It is against the teachings of the Church to use alcohol and tobacco or to drink tea and coffee.

Q: Does the Church also ban the consumption of “hot drinks”? And does that apply specifically to caffeinated drinks?

A: It is against the teachings of the Church to use alcohol and tobacco or to drink tea and coffee.

C: These two questions are very interesting and raise an important question about what is and isn’t authoritative in Mormonism. A Mormon will tell you that the only authoritative sources are the “Standard Works”; the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants (D&C) and Pearl of Great Price. The Mormon health law, the Word of Wisdom, is found in the D&C. There are two facts that stand out; 1) there is no mention of tea or coffee and 2) it is not a commandment or constraint but a principle therefore not binding.

There has been much speculation over the years about what is forbidden, with members have moved in their thinking from hot drinks to speculating whether the true purpose of the principle is the avoidance of caffeine. This led to the more zealous concluding that it was therefore wrong to drink Coca Cola, even Lucozade and similar drinks. Mormon leaders have variously spoken about avoiding tea and coffee and warned the zealous not to take it too far, insisting that it doesn’t include Coca Cola. But then it doesn’t include tea and coffee and, in the original form, it is neither a commandment nor a restraint. Since there is no revelation, i.e. in the Standard Works that mentions any of these things then Mormons are not truly bound except by conscience. Now there’s a novel idea.

Q: Why do Mormons go from door to door?

A: Christ admonished his disciples to take the gospel to the world. The Church follows that admonition and sends missionaries throughout the world.

C: So much might be said about mission and Mormonism. The Mormon missionary programme is youth-based and might be said to be a youth programme as much as anything. It is not especially effective with recent convert growth at a modest 2-3% per annum and over 300 Proselyting hours per convert, a retention rate of some 20-30% and missionary numbers dropping by up to 14% in the first decade of the 21st Century. The average activity rate worldwide is no more than 35% and approx. 1million are awaiting confirmation of resignation at any given time. The average growth in the UK is 1.55% and attendance 30%. Mormon missionaries are a good shop window however.

Mormons do not operate missions other than where there is already an established Christian, especially Evangelical presence. They cannot be said to break new ground and much of what they do simply duplicates work already established by larger and older Christian missions. Christian missions will open doors and Mormons walk through them. Christian missions establish a presence and the good will of the community and Mormons trade on that good will. Christianity builds a house and Mormonism moves in.

Q: What do the Mormons believe about the family?

A: Mormons believe that the family is the foundation for this life and the life to come.

To reiterate earlier observations:

Qu: “Brethren, 225,000 of you are here tonight. I suppose 225,000 of you may become gods. There seems to be plenty of space out there in the universe. And the Lord has proved that he knows how to do it. I think he can make, or probably have us help make, worlds for all of us, for every one of us 225,000” (Spencer W Kimball, Ensign, Nov.1975, p.80)>

C: Mormon men intend to become gods, just as their god has done before them. Joseph Smith taught this and, in 1974, Mormon apostle Marion G Romney stated, “God is a perfected, saved soul, enjoying eternal life.” That is what “salvation” is to a Mormon, i.e. godhood. (Salt Lake Tribune, Oct.6, 1974)

Qu. “In the Heaven where our spirits were born there are many Gods, each one of whom has his own wife or wives, raises up a numerous family of sons and daughters… each father and mother will be in a condition to multiply forever and ever. As soon as each God has begotten many millions of male and female spirits, and his Heavenly inheritance becomes too small, to comfortably accommodate his great family, he, in connection with his sons, organizes a new world, after a similar order to the one which we now inhabit, where he sends both the male and female spirits to inhabit tabernacles of flesh and bones…. The inhabitants of each world are required to reverence, adore, and worship their own personal father who dwells in the Heaven which they formerly inhabited.”  (Mormon apostle Orson Pratt, The Seer, March 1853, pp. 37-39)

C. In the most fundamental way this describes the Mormon Plan of Salvation, the plan by which God himself became God according to Mormonism. God made this planet to accommodate his spirit children (us) and faithful Mormons will go on to create and inhabit their own planets, which will be populated by their spirit children who will, in turn, worship them – and the whole process starts again. The answer, then, is that there are, or will be planets which Mormons expect to rule after their death and ascension.

The impression given, and gained, from Mormon publicity for the family is that of a warm Victorian picture of hearth and home, thrift and industry and traditional values in support of the idea of the nuclear family. Mormons however expect to become gods, populating their own earth with their spiritual offspring, just as God has done before them. The family, so celebrated in Mormonism, forms the basis of this cosmic dynasty; the extended family writ large across your very own universe.

Q: Can someone who may never marry in life have eternal marriage?

A: God will not withhold blessings from any of his children who may not have the opportunity to marry in this life.

Qu.If you want salvation in the fullest, that is exaltation in the kingdom of God, so that you may become his sons and his daughters, you have got to go into the temple of the Lord and receive these holy ordinances which belong to that house, which cannot be had elsewhere” (Mormon prophet Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 2, p.44).

Qu. “It fills my heart with sadness when I see in the paper the name of a daughter or a son of members of this Church, and discover that she or he is going to have a ceremony and be married outside of the temple of the Lord, because I realize what it means, that they are cutting themselves off from exaltation in the kingdom of God.

SORROW IN RESURRECTION IF NO ETERNAL MARRIAGE. These young people who seem to be so happy now, when they rise in the resurrection—and find themselves in the condition in which they will find themselves—then there will be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and bitterness of soul …” (Ibid., p.60).

Qu. “Restrictions will be placed upon those who enter the terrestial and telestial kingdoms, and even those in the celestial kingdom who do not get the exaltation; changes will be made in their bodies to suit their condition; and there will be no marrying or giving in marriage, nor living together of men and women, because of these restrictions” (ibid. vol. 2, p.73).

Qu. “Except a man and his wife enter into an everlasting covenant and be married for eternity, while in this probation, by the power and authority of the holy priesthood,” The Prophet says, “They will cease to increase when they die; that is, they will not have any children after the resurrection” (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p.238)

C: Exaltation and even happiness in the next life, for a Mormon, depends on being married for eternity, the establishment of “increase” and the building of an eternal dynasty. Without this “there will be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and bitterness of soul …”

To summarise:

The Mormon Plan of Salvation is the plan by which God himself became God according to Mormonism. God made this planet to accommodate his spirit children (us) and faithful Mormons will go on to create and inhabit their own planets, which will be populated by their spirit children who will, in turn, worship them – and the whole process starts again.

The god of Mormonism has a body and, like the Wizard of Oz, he only appears omnipotent. Pull back the veil and you see a man. Mormons use the phrase “literally the Son of God” of Jesus as though it is a classic orthodox Christian tenet but by this deceptively simple phrase they are conveying their belief that an “exalted man” with a physical body had intercourse with an exalted woman and, from that union, came the “literal Son of God”. While the Bible teaches and Christians believe that Jesus is “literally God the Son”, the eternal God, Mormons believe he is “literally the Son of God”, the offspring of a man they worship as God and a woman they regard as their goddess mother.

Kolob illustrates the idea that the Mormon god is relatively omniscient (an oxymoron), not an eternal God but an exalted man who is only eternal going forwards; going backwards he clearly decreases until that time when he did not reign.

Following this example, Mormon men intend to become gods, just as their god has done before them. Joseph Smith taught this and, in 1974, Mormon apostle Marion G Romney stated, “God is a perfected, saved soul, enjoying eternal life.” That is what “salvation” is to a Mormon, i.e. godhood. (Salt Lake Tribune, Oct.6, 1974)

Not only do Mormon women need to have passwords but they need the permission of their husband to access heaven. Mormon women take the role of “heavenly Mother” with their god husband, heavenly Father, yielding “the most perfect obedience to their great Head.” Not only so but eternal happiness depends on entering into this eternal arrangement, a wife among countless wives of an exalted man among many gods. The seemingly innocent Mormon message about the family is the basis for this dynastic arrangement.

Mormons in their tens of thousands go out every year into areas where traditional Christianity is already established and the Christian message regularly preached. This despite the fact that there is no evidence for or reason to believe it, its original founders and witnesses discredited and/or excommunicated, denounced by their fellow Mormons and the larger world.

I think perhaps now you can answer the first question for yourself, i.e. why do some call the Mormon Church a cult?

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