I am Mormon. I was born and raised in the LDS Church, aka the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I have never been secretive about this fact. I may not go around openly proclaiming it all the time, but when asked directly what church I go to, I have always been open about it. My kids are too.
In recent years, especially with the candidacy of Mitt Romney for president, I have seen a lot of hateful rhetoric spewed about Mormons. I've frequented blogs by women of other faiths whom I admire only to find they are critical and downright rude about Mormons, to the point where I've found myself defending our church in the comments sections of these blogs. The thing is, most of the blogs I have read belong to members of other Christian sects. The writers have a lot of opinions and ideas similar to mine, which is why I would frequent the blogs. I don't know if these Christian women even realize how we are so similar because often, when Mormonism comes up, they are very hostile towards our church. They probably don't even realize how many LDS women follow their blogs.
I have always wanted to start a blog with a fellow Christian who is not a Mormon to show that we have a lot of similar beliefs and ideals and to show how our common ground could give us strength together. I have never had that chance, mostly because most of the time, when one of these women finds out I'm Mormon, I am automatically shunned from their world. I find this so sad because we have a lot in common. Especially when Mitt Romney was running and many other Christians claimed they could never vote for him because he was a Mormon. They completely disregarded anything he stood for and just because he held different beliefs about the nature of God and what we Mormons call the Godhead, they couldn't find anything else in his platform they could agree with because they heard "Mormon" and stopped looking. So I would like to talk about the similarities we have.
To begin with, let's dispel with the three great differences between Mormons and many other Christian sects. First, we believe that God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate and distinctly different beings who are unified in purpose. Many other Christan sects believe that they are all one and the same being, The Trinity. This just does not make sense to me, but even with that different belief, we can still agree that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World.
Second, other Christians claim that Mormons do not believe in being saved by grace. That is absolutely untrue. The fact is there is a great deal misunderstood about grace, but we do believe in being saved by grace. It is only through the grace of Jesus Christ that we can attain salvation. However, that doesn't mean we can live depraved lives, making terrible choices, and still be saved because we proclaim we believe in Jesus Christ. We do have to try our best to be good and do good things throughout our lives. But despite being wonderful, without the grace of Jesus Christ, we could not be saved. That is what it means that we are a gospel of works.
Third, the whole fact that we have another book that we call scripture in addition to the Bible is a disputing point for other Christians. We simply believe that our Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. We also believe the Bible and adhere to its teachings as well. How bad can we be when we claim to have more to know about Jesus Christ and his mission?
So, there you have it. The three doctrinal points that get other Christian sects all riled up about Mormonism. There are other differences we have with individual sects that they also have with each other. For example, infant baptism and/or baptism by immersion. Some baptize by sprinkling, others by immersion, most believe in infant baptism, but we do not. However, I have in my possession a list of doctrinal points that vary sect by sect and there are many that disagree with each other on many points, including the Mormons.
But I prefer to focus on what we have in common.
Most people of faith believe the Ten Commandments and try to teach them to their children. Mormons do this, Catholics do this, Baptists do this, and many other sects. We believe that adultery is wrong, we believe in honoring parents, in not killing, etc.
Most people of faith are trying to teach their children to live moral, upright lives. Depending on the level of their commitment, this may mean no sex until marriage for many of them. Mormons certainly believe that.
Many people of faith agree that same sex marriage is wrong and distorts God's plan for families. Many people of faith agree that abortion is evil. Many people of faith believe there is value in having a mother be a homemaker and teaching boys to treat girls with respect and girls to treat boys with respect. Many people of faith understand that pornography is evil and the effect it has on the minds of those who view and fight against it.
In a lot of ways, I am similar to my non-Mormon, but religious, mother peers in that I am trying to teach my boys to be respectful of women and to be honorable and valiant young men. I am trying to teach my daughters to be modest and to believe in their worth as a daughter of God. I am trying to teach my children that using profanity is not a good way of communication. I am trying to teach my children that Heavenly Father loves His children and that they each have individual worth only because they are God's child. I'm trying to teach my children to love one another, to succor one another in their trials, to be kind to everyone they meet, and to follow Jesus Christ.
We may not agree on every doctrinal point, but we can agree that we are trying to teach our children to follow Jesus Christ and be like Him. We want them to live moral lives, to contribute to society, to become good mothers and fathers who will lead their own children in the direction of light. We are more the same than different on a lot of issues. We believe in strong families and commitment to God. We believe in righteousness and service. I really hope that someday we can all come together and recognize our similarities and see them as a strength that binds us together instead of the differences in doctrine that divide us.