What's a Mormon?

This is something I've actually been thinking about quite a bit lately.  I've been Mormon my whole life, but what that has meant to me has changed somewhat over the years, particularly over this last little while.  So, I will talk about what being Mormon means to me.

At the simplest level, a Mormon is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  As a member of that church, a Mormon is a Christian.  A Mormon believes in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, as the Savior of the World, and as their own personal Redeemer.  A Mormon views all of the humans on the Earth as brothers and sisters, since we are all children of God.  We have a loving Heavenly Father who watches over us with great concern.  When we do good, He is happy, and when we do ill, He is unhappy.

A Mormon is someone who seeks truth wherever it is to be found.  In our church, we believe the Bible to be the word of God.  We also have three other books of canonized scripture.  We have the Book of Mormon (where the nickname Mormon came from), which is similar to the Bible in the sense that it is ancient scripture written by prophets of God long ago.  We also have the Doctrine and Covenants, which is a book of modern revelations given to prophets in our day, over the last 200 years.  We believe in science--every branch of science.  We believe that God reveals truths, such as science, to men in order to help us progress and become a more advanced and civilized society.  We are encouraged to seek education and to use that education to contribute to society.  I personally enjoy learning all that I can.  I feel a deep satisfaction in learning new things, in discovering how things work.

The best answer I could give for the question "What do Mormons believe?" is "We believe all that is true."  If it is true that 1+1=2, then we believe that.  If quantum mechanics is true, then we believe that too.  If it is true that God created the earth in 6 days, we believe that.  If it is true (and I certainly believe that it is) that Christ suffered for the sins of the world and rose again so that we could all live again, then we believe that too.  Not only are we encouraged to learn as much as possible, but we are also encouraged to discover for ourselves what is true and what is not.  Concerning theological matters, we are encouraged to pray to God and ask Him if what we are being taught is true.  We have the promise that the Holy Ghost will assure us of truth.  We will be able to feel in our hearts and in our minds that the things of truth really are true.  God wants His children to rely on Him, but also to use the ability that He has given us to think rationally.

To me, a Mormon is someone who will give you the coat off their back.  They are someone who will stay up late at night comforting you over the loss of your father or your recent breakup with your significant other.  A Mormon is someone who actually cares how you're doing.  A Mormon wants to show you how much God loves you.  They want to live their life so that others will see them and desire to be more like Christ.  They will accept you for who you are, because you are their brother or sister.  It doesn't matter what you look like, what you have done in the past, or what you are currently doing with your life--they want to lift your burdens, brighten your smile, and calm your troubled heart.  A Mormon tries in every way to be like Christ, and to do what He would want us to do.  This is what being a Mormon means to me.

Many people have said "Love the sinner, hate the sin."  Perhaps this is wise.  But, I will content myself with the first half of the sentence--"Love the sinner."  We are all sinners, and we all sin.  But I do not feel that it is necessary to inform other people that I disapprove of their behavior.  If I truly love them, then they will know what sins they are committing and they will want to repent of them on their own.  I do not need to make them feel guilty about it, nor do I need to point it out to them.  Why does love need to be qualified?  Why should I ever say to someone "I love you, but....."? (e.g., "I love you, but I don't approve of your behavior.")  Why can I not just stop at "I love you."?  Whether or not I approve of their behavior is entirely irrelevant.  If God disapproves of their behavior, then He will let them know, and since He has all wisdom and all knowledge, I will trust His judgement.  This is what being a Mormon means to me.