People who aren’t members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints often associate our religion with a long list of rules we follow. While the Church has many guidelines in place for our protection and overall happiness, it’s important to understand what is and isn’t actual doctrine.
1. Church has to be held on Sunday.
Sunday is dedicated to worship, family, and rest for most Latter-day Saints throughout the world. However, some countries dedicate other days to worship. For example, some countries in the Middle East hold church on Saturday.
When asked where Latter-day Saint Church meetings are most frequently held in the world, Deseret News reported, “Melissa Inouye, of the University of Hong Kong, believes the answer is in Hong Kong where church meetings are held every day of the week in order to accommodate the domestic helpers, many of whom are from the Philippines and who only get one day a week off, and these days vary.”
2. Latter-day Saints can’t use birth control.
Parenthood is a blessing and privilege many Latter-day Saints are able to participate in. Children are a joy in the home and we are commanded to “multiply and replenish the earth.” However, this sacred responsibility looks different for each family and each couple. The number of children in a family or when they are born is strictly between the husband, wife, and the Lord.
President Dallin H. Oaks said, “Many [Latter-day Saint] parents have large families. Others seek but are not blessed with children or the number of children they desire. In a matter as intimate as this, we should not judge one another.”
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3. Latter-day Saint women don't lead in the Church.
Many people think that women in the Church don't have leadership responsibilities, but that’s simply not true. Women play a key role in the Church by running the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary programs. They speak in sacrament meeting and minister to each other in a loving, caring manner while tuning into the needs of their ward members. Men and women have different church responsibilities but they are complementary, resulting in a well-organized, balanced ward.
4. Latter-day Saints can't talk about our Mother in Heaven.
We believe in a Heavenly Father to whom we pray, thank for our blessings, and worship. He is perfect and loves us dearly. We speak of Him often in the Church, which leaves a question open to many people about whether or not we have a Heavenly Mother as well.
Prophets and Church leaders have discussed Her existence in their teachings and there are records of Joseph Smith teaching some of the women in the Church about Her.
President Harold B. Lee taught, “We forget that we have a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother who are even more concerned, probably, than our earthly father and mother, and that influences from beyond are constantly working to try to help us when we do all we can. President M. Russell Ballard echoed his words, “We are part of a divine plan designed by Heavenly Parents who love us.”
President Hinckley taught that although we pray to our Father in heaven, “The fact that we do not pray to our Mother in Heaven in no way belittles her or denigrates her.”
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5. Latter-day Saints can’t drink caffeine.
Joseph Smith was given the revelation we know as the Word of Wisdom back in 1833. It is recorded in D&C 89 and advises Latter-day Saints against using tobacco, drinking alcohol, and drinking “hot drinks,” specifically tea and coffee. The rest is up to personal discretion. Elder Boyd K. Packer stated, “The Word of Wisdom was ‘given for a principle with promise’ (D&C 89:3). . . . A principle is an enduring truth, a law, a rule you can adopt to guide you in making decisions.”
I know some wonderful Latter-day Saints who steer clear of caffeinated soft drinks and some who enjoy a good Diet Coke (including myself). The decision to consume caffeinated beverages is between you, the Lord, and what you feel comfortable doing.
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6. Latter-day Saints are saved through works alone.
We wholeheartedly believe that what we do with our time on earth matters. We are encouraged to get an education, work hard, teach our children how to work hard, and serve others with a willing heart. We know that our works will help us gain eternal life, but we know we won’t be saved through our works alone. We need grace and forgiveness. We need the atonement.
Lds.org states, “We don’t earn salvation. Heavenly Father and the Savior will bless us with eternal life, through Their grace, if we do our part. They have asked us to have faith in Jesus Christ, repent throughout our lives, be baptized and receive other ordinances, and faithfully endure to the end. If we do that, we are promised eternal life through the grace of God.”
These inspired teachings give us the guidance and direction needed to return to live with our Father in Heaven, and making sure we understand Church doctrine will help us get there.