Beliefs of the LDS Church. Social, historical and scientific beliefs.
LDS Church teachings on social matters, history and science:
General: According to a 2000-NOV issue of US News and World Report, LDS teaching has been emphasizing the church's commitment to
conservative and family values. They are downplaying LDS past beliefs in polygyny (plural marriages involving one man
and multiple wives) and racism.
Status of marriage at death: Couples who could have been sealed (married
in a Mormon temple), but did not take advantage of that opportunity will
be forcibly divorced at death and start eternity as single
individuals. Fortunately, temple ordinances which will seal a couple can
still be done after a person's death. Many Mormons feel a heavy pressure
to have a Temple marriage to a fellow Mormon. If they do so, the latter will be
automatically sealed. Many Mormons believe that If they marry a non-Mormon, they
may face a future of loneliness in heaven, and can never be accepted into
the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom.
Divorce while on Earth: During the LDS' biannual conference in 2007-APR, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve discussed divorce. He said:
"This is a sensitive subject because it evokes such strong emotions
from persons it has touched in different ways. ... I speak out of concern, but with hope.
He noted that many divorcees are innocent victims:
"... whose former spouses persistently betrayed
sacred covenants or abandoned or refused to perform marriage
responsibilities for an extended period. ... [They] have firsthand
knowledge of circumstances worse than divorce. ...
"When a marriage is dead and beyond hope of resuscitation, it is
needful to have a means to end it. ... Often the cause is not
incompatibility but selfishness. [Those with] ... serious marriage
problems should see their bishop. As the Lord's judge, he will give
counsel and perhaps even discipline that will lead toward healing.
Bishops do not counsel members to divorce, but they can help members
with the consequences of their decisions. ... Even those who think their spouse is entirely to blame should not
act hastily. ...
The best way to avoid divorce from an unfaithful, abusive or
unsupportive spouse is to avoid marriage to such a person. If you wish
to marry, inquire well. ... [A good marriage] does not require a
perfect man or a perfect woman. It only requires a man and a woman
committed to strive together toward perfection." 1,2
Creation of the universe: The creation of mankind, the earth,
and the rest of the universe is accurately recorded in Genesis. But the
seven days of creation were not necessarily 24 hours days; they may have
involved billions of years. Many Mormons believe in an old earth. An 1973 opinion poll of Mormon students at Brigham
Young University found that only 27% (vs 5% in 1935) believed that "The
world’s creation did not take millions of years."
According to the Book of Moses, which the church teaches was
written by the Moses of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), creation is a continuous process involving many worlds:
"And worlds without number have I created. ...for mine own
purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only
Begotten...And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof
even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works" 3
Evolution: The same 1973 opinion poll found that most students
denied that humanity evolved from lower species. 81% of BYU students (vs
36% in 1935) agreed that: "Man’s creation did not involve
biological evolution." However, the church does teach a belief commonly
found among evangelicals: "micro-evolution." That is, that change
is possible within a
History of North American people: The church teaches that:
The Jaredite people were one of many groups scattered from the Tower
of Babel circa 2250 BCE. They settled on the East coast of Central
America. They were totally destroyed because of their corruption.
Some Israelites departed from the Middle East about 600 BCE, before
the time of the Babylonian captivity and arrived in America. A patriarch Lehi had two sons: Nephi (from whom the Nephites descended) and Laman
(from whom the Lamanites descended). The two tribes lived in a state of
continuous feuding and warfare. The earthen mounds throughout the
Palmyra, NY area are believed to be attempts at defensive fortification.
Eventually, the Lamanites exterminated most of the Nephites circa 385 CE. The former became the ancestors of present day Native Americans. God gave to
Native Americans their "red skins" in order to visually separate them
from those who had followed God's commandments and teachings.
Jesus came to America after his resurrection where he performed miracles, delivered a sermon similar to the
Beatitudes and selected twelve disciples from the Nephite tribe.
Slavery: The early Mormon church had no official teaching about
the owning of slaves. Their beliefs and practices concerning slavery were
The abolitionist beliefs of some Mormons, as expressed in articles
in their newspapers, resulted in the expulsion of Mormons from Jackson
County, MO in the late 1830's. 4
In 1836 Joseph Smith declared that slaves should be treated decently
by their owners, and that slaves were to obey their masters. 5
Smith sent a letter to Oliver Cowdery who was next in authority to Smith in the Church. He said:
"I do not believe that the people of the North have any more right to say that the South shall not hold slaves, than the South have to say the North shall. ... when I see persons in the free states signing documents against slavery, it is no less, in my mind, than an array of influence, and a declaration of hostilities against the people of the South! What can divide our Union sooner, God only knows!"
"... the first mention we have of slavery is found in the holy bible, pronounced by [Noah,] a man who was perfect in his generation and walked with God. And so far from that prediction's being averse from the mind of God it remains as a lasting monument of the decree of Jehovah, to the shame and confusion of all who have cried out against the South, in consequence of their holding the sons of Him in servitude!
'And he said cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem and Canaan shall be his servant.' Gen. 8:25, 26, 27. ..."
"... we have no right to interfere with slaves contrary to the mind and will of their masters. In fact, it would be much better and more prudent, not to preach at all to slaves, until after their masters are converted: and then, teach the master to use them with kindness, remembering that they are accountable to God, and that servants are bound to serve their master, with singleness of heart, without murmuring. I do, most sincerely hope, that no one who is authorized from this church to preach the gospel, will so far depart from the scripture as to be found stirring up strife and sedition against our brethren of the South. Having spoken frankly and freely, I leave all in the hands of God, who will direct all things for his glory and the accomplishments of his work. 8
In 1844, during his presidential campaign, Smith favored abolition.
In the late 1840's, "Brigham Young tacitly supported
slaveholding, declaring that although Utah was not suited for slavery
the practice was ordained by God." 5
"In 1851 Apostle Orson Hyde said the church would not interfere
in relations between master and slave." 5
In 1852, Brigham Young, then Governor of Utah, asked the legislature
to pass an act that allowed "suitable" whites to bind a Native
person to a period of indenture not exceeding 20 years.
In 1853, Governor Young expelled all slave traders from Utah.
Under pressure from Mormons in the late 1850's, the local practice
of enslaving Natives from the Southern Paiute tribe ceased. 6
Racism: The Church originally taught that male persons with any black ancestry
could not be ordained into the priesthood. This was because blacks were
believed to have been cursed by God with the "Mark of Ham," and were
to be perpetual slaves. This was a very common belief shared by both
Mormons and many other Christians during the 19th century. It was
derived from a biblical passage: Genesis 9:20-27. A second revelation from God
to the LDS church in
1978-JUN terminated this limitation . Male African-Americans are now regarded
as full members of the LDS and are eligible for consideration for
ordination. 7More details.
Social conflicts: The LDS beliefs on abortion and homosexuality
match those of most conservative Christian churches. They teach that abortion is murder; they oppose abortion access for women except for unusual cases. They teach that
homosexual behavior is a very serious sin; they oppose equal rights for gays and lesbians, including
the right to marry. The church invested major human and financial resources to help pass Proposition 8 (a.k.a. "Prop. Hate") in California. It was narrowly passed during the 2008-NOV election, and banned new gay marriages in the state. Without their support, Prop 8 would probably have been defeated.
Although their beliefs differ significantly from that of historical
Christianity, Mormons believe that the their doctrines were those held by the very
early Christian church. Although their doctrines are based on modern revelation,
they do not feel that any of them conflict with the Bible, except those
specifically changed due to new revelations from God. Depending on one's
interpretation they feel that all of the doctrines mentioned can be found
described, clearly mentioned, or alluded to in the Bible (at least in part).