Difference between revisions of "Mormon Lifestyle"
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[[Category:Mormon Life and Culture]]
[[Category:Mormon Life and Culture]]
[[pt:Estilo de Vida Mórmon]]
[[pt:Estilo de Vida Mórmon]]
Revision as of 22:30, 4 July 2012
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often mistakenly called Mormons) have a different lifestyle than most other people. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is sometimes referred to as the Mormon Church by those of other faiths, teaches doctrines with very specific guidelines which faithful Latter-day Saints are encouraged to live by. This pattern is recognizable in the Old Testament, when the Israelites were brought out of Egypt and were called and set apart to be a “peculiar people” unto the Lord Deuteronomy 14:2. They were given specific commandments which set them apart from the rest of the world. It is a similar idea with the Latter-day Saints. The standards they live set them apart from the rest of the world and help them to let the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ shine forth to the world.
One of the things that sets Latter-day Saints apart from others is the Mormon health law known among members of the church as the Word of Wisdom. This standard was given as revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1833 Doctrine and Covenants 89. Though at first it was not a commandment for the Saints to live this revelation, it later became a standard for those who wished to enter Mormon temples, which it continues to be today.
The Word of Wisdom outlines specific things which are harmful to the body, including, but not limited to, wine, strong drinks, tobacco, and hot drinks. Some further revelation has defined “strong drinks” as anything alcoholic and “hot drinks” as coffee and black and green tea. Though some Latter-day Saints add further interpretation to these instructions, and extend suggestions to include all caffeine (contained in both coffee and tea) and many other drugs, the official stance of the Church is that “Any drug, chemical, or dangerous practice that is used to produce a sensation or ‘high’ can destroy your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. These include hard drugs, prescription or over-the-counter medications that are abused, and household chemicals” (For the Strength of Youth, “Physical Health,” 2001). 
In addition to excluding specific things from one’s diet, the Word of Wisdom recommends other dietary practices to improve quality of life. These include the use of herbs to maintain health, moderation in one’s intake of meat, and taking care of oneself in general. These suggestions, later to become commandment, were given at a time when the partaking of mild alcoholic beverages was part of nearly everyone’s life. In addition, there were no known harmful effects of tobacco or hot drinks. This revelation has truly been for the good of men and women to free themselves of the harmful effects of drugs as well as the chains of addiction. If one abstains from all such things, addiction is never a problem; nor are the harmful effects that alcohol and drugs can have on the body. The introduction given by the Lord to Doctrine and Covenants, Section 89, is very telling. It says in verse 4: "Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation—" This introduction predicted a future with money-hungry companies hiding the ill effects of their addictive and health-destroying products.
The Mormon health law extends beyond the Word of Wisdom to other things as well. Mormon doctrine teaches the commandment of the law of chastity, which is defined as individuals having no sexual relations except with their spouse. Abstinence before marriage and fidelity in marriage free people not just from myriad ghastly sexually transmitted diseases, but also from the trials of having children out of wedlock and the emotional damage that can occur by being intimate with more than one person.
Many people looking from-the-outside-in think that Latter-day Saints must be very unhappy. There are so many restrictions. What is left to do to have fun?! In truth, Latter-day Saints are happier than the average person. How can this be? What can resolve this paradox? If you ask a faithful Latter-day Saint this question, this is likely the kind of answer you would get: Through living these commandments, I have seen first-hand the blessings that this lifestyle brings into my life. I have seen other people’s lives when people do not live this way, and they have far more struggles than I do. I don’t have to worry about sleeping with someone I don’t know because I’m too drunk or high to think better of it. I don’t have to worry about becoming an alcoholic, because I don’t drink. I don’t have to worry nearly as much about lung cancer because I don’t smoke. I am free from the chains of addiction where my body does all my thinking for me, because I don’t take drugs. I can focus on having good things in my life. Latter-day Saints are encouraged to have families because Mormon doctrine states that the family is not only the fundamental unit of society here, but also in the eternities. The greatest blessings that God has to offer come through the bonds of families. This is why Latter-day Saints are encouraged to marry and to have families. While not everyone will have the opportunity to be married and/or have a family in this life, those blessings are still promised to the faithful.
Divorce is discouraged in the Mormon faith because families are meant to be together forever. When a couple is married in a Mormon temple, a family unit is sealed or bound together by eternal spiritual ties, as long as its members are faithful to their covenants. This is a wonderful blessing, but also a huge responsibility. Despite this perspective, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recognize that sometimes there are situations where divorce is really the best and most healthy solution, for example, in situations of abuse. Every family will have its own trials and challenges, but families are meant to give love and encouragement to one another. Drawing on this strength and the other blessings that living the commandments of our Savior Jesus Christ has given brings happiness into the lives of faithful Latter-day Saints. This does not mean that righteous people have perfect lives. We will all have struggles and challenges, but through exercising faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we can overcome all of these things.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints realize that the lifestyle they are called to lead brings more happiness into their lives. The commandments God has given are not meant to restrict His children, but in reality give them more freedom to live their lives the way they choose to instead of the way the world would have them, binding them down by consequences of poor choices.