Being LDS Is Like Being a Vietnam Vet - (Videos Added)
You try your best, but get little appreciation
To paraphrase Eliza Doolittle, “Oy’m a **good** guy, Oy am!”
When I was a foot soldier in Vietnam, I worked hard and tried my best. Now, as an LDS, I’m trying my best here, too. I’m not doing this as a trick to get sympathy. Just making a comparison, and wishing to make a point. I’ve been praised in most everything I do. I love my fellow man, and I enjoy watching the kudos come in. It happens a lot, because I try to contribute my best to society. There seems to be only two things in my life that people have judged me negatively for: Vietnam and being LDS. (These days the Church officials like us to use the LDS or Latter-day Saint title, instead of the name Mormon. “Mormon” was originally dubbed by our critics, and it stuck for good long while.) For these two things in my life, I really didn’t have much choice. (Well, I had a choice in selecting my religion, but because of incredible spiritual things that have happened, I don’t dare go against it, now. It isn’t that I fear what men or church leaders say, I fear God, because I’m convinced He told me to stay here.)
It seems I’m finally shedding the Vietnam stigma, thanks to all you mature incredible people who have thanked me and shown appreciation. Now I seek to do the same with my LDS standing.
I can only suppose why there seems to be such a stigma attached to Mormonism in this world. Many think we’re a cult, because they say we don’t practice the teachings of the Bible. But I think one of the biggest reasons is our attitude, or what appears to be our attitude: “My church is right, and yours is wrong.” In other words, “I’m right and you’re wrong.” Also, in LDS testimony meetings, people say, “I know without a doubt that the church is the only true church on the face of the earth” and “Our church is perfect.” This sometimes comes across as us thinking we’re perfect. (I will admit that some mistaken LDS people tend to adopt this attitude.)
I ask two things concerning our actions and our behavior: Please forget the images painted above, and please forgive us for acting that way. We are all human, we have our foibles and weaknesses, and our idiosyncrasies. Just like the rest of humanity, when we are exposed to a certain dogma for such a long time, there will arise attitudes and trends. When we cry on each other’s shoulders or pat each other on the back, there will arise esoteric mannerisms, sometimes negative. It’s insidious. We’re so close to it, we don’t see it. People don’t usually step back to take a look at themselves from a wider perspective.
I have travelled far and wide, and have had the opportunity to step back and take a look. When I did so, I left the Church. It took a while before I finally came back, because – at first – I swore I never would. But, like I said above, incredible things happened inside me that convinced me God wanted me in the church. Since then, I’ve helped a lot of people both in health, and in their personal welfare.
So let me talk to you like I think all LDS should talk to the rest of the world:
According to my beliefs and convictions as a Latter-day Saint --
God loves you as much as He loves me. You’re probably more righteous than I am, because I have a lot of baggage, and weaknesses, to boot. I think Jesus will save me even if I do no works. (If you’re interested, ask me and I will justify that statement in terms of LDS doctrine.) By this admission, I must concede that He will save you, too. Just because I don’t smoke or drink, it doesn’t make me better than you. I have my own weaknesses and vices that are less visible than yours. Just because I’m LDS it doesn’t make me better than you. Not all LDS will be saved in the kingdom of God. Many non-LDS will beat many LDS to God’s kingdom.
God does His work in other churches, even in non-Christian churches, because He loves all His children.
Tab Choir sings Handel's Hallelujah Chorus
Go Tell It on the Mountain
There is certain work done in the LDS Church that is not done elsewhere, and it involves the temples (not chapels, but temples – the kind you need to get a recommend for). This is one reason LDS say we are the only true church. What they ought to say is: “Not everyone will want the rewards that come as a result of temple work. For them, the Church is not true, and will not serve them for their purposes. Those who **will** want those blessings, even though they may not get the chance in this life, will have a chance to be presented the facts, and then to accept temple ordinances in the next life.”
Now, to dispel some myths, if I may, to help you be more tolerant toward us:
1) We don’t worship Moroni: he is only a symbol of the restoration, and of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We think he was the angel referred to in Revelation 14:6: “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” 2) We also don’t worship Joseph Smith. We honor him, just as prophets of old have been praised. 3) We don’t seek numbers in baptisms (it’s not a contest). We seek only those who have the interest, and ultimately, the testimony that this church is for them. We are merely complying with Jesus’ invitation to “. . . go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. (Mark 16:15). 4) We don’t think we’ll get to heaven under our own power. Even though we feel it helps to do good deeds, as it shows in Matthew 25:31-46, we know it can’t happen except through the Grace and Atonement of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 5) We put more trust in the Bible than what people give us credit for. Originally, it was God’s perfect Word. Even non-LDS Bible scholars will admit that changing times and some translations have created problems. We merely claim the same thing, and use the Bible when teaching investigators and in Sunday School. 6) The Book of Mormon doesn’t replace the Bible; it is a second witness of Jesus Christ, and helps to clarify some of the things obscured in or taken out of the Bible through the ages.
This article is not meant to convert. It’s only a plea to “give us a break.” And this is me talking, not the LDS Church. I don’t officially represent the LDS Church, so everything said here is my opinion and my own private take on the issue.