Common Questions

Below are questions often asked about members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you have more questions, we’d love to set up a missionary visit.

Christian Beliefs

Yes! Definitely. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the World. He loves us all more than we can imagine. Does that mean we have exactly the same beliefs as other Christian churches? No. But we definitely consider ourselves devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

Learn more about our beliefs.

The Holy Trinity is the term many Christian religions use to describe God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. Latter-day Saints believe very strongly in all three, but we don’t believe they’re all the same person. We do believe they are one in purpose. Their purpose is to help us achieve true joy, in this life and in the life to come (which we also believe in).

Yes. Jesus is the foundation of our faith. In fact, the full name of our Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Bible and the Book of Mormon both testify of Jesus Christ, and we cherish both.

This verse from the Book of Mormon reflects our beliefs in Christ: “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:26).

The term “Mormons” is a nickname that comes from a book of scripture unique to our Church called the Book of Mormon. We didn’t come up with the nickname, but lots of people use it to describe the Church and its members. In the past, we’ve embraced the term and even used it ourselves, but recently we have asked people to call the Church by its full name: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This re-emphasis of the Church’s name helps us follow the Lord’s command given to the prophet Joseph Smith: “For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Doctrine and Covenants 115:4). It also helps everyone know that Jesus is the core of our religion and beliefs.

“Latter-day Saints” is a good way to refer to your friends who are members of the Church.

Yes. Very much so. It’s the word of God, a sacred volume of scripture, and required reading for a happy life. Along with the Bible, we also find inspiration in other books of scripture unique to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They all work together to teach us important truths about Jesus Christ.

Learn more about our belief in the Bible.

Lifestyle

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are just like anyone else. We have ups and downs and everything in between. Latter-day Saints have a reputation for being a happy, peaceful people. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have challenges. Everyone in life is fighting a hard battle—but when we try our best to live the gospel of Jesus Christ, we have additional strength and peace to make it through.

As far as lifestyle is concerned, Latter-day Saints try to keep Jesus front and center. Our beliefs about the Savior and His teachings affect our day-to-day decisions about how we speak, dress, and act. For example, we try to avoid working on Sundays so we can attend church, serve others, and spend time with family. Faithful members of the Church do not smoke, drink alcohol, or gamble.

Learn more about our community or find a church near you.

The first step is usually to meet with missionaries. They will teach you the basic beliefs and practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They can also answer any of your questions about the Church and let you know what is expected from members. 

You should also start attending worship services. You will find the joy of belonging to a community of people who care about each other and strive to follow the example of Jesus Christ.

Ultimately, once you are ready to join the Church, you can choose to be baptized and become an official member. You can be baptized either by missionaries or by someone you’ve come to know at church. 

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints choose not to drink beer because we believe in an inspired health code called the Word of Wisdom that encourages us to take care of our bodies. Most of it is common sense stuff. No illegal drugs. No alcohol. No tobacco. Reasoning for avoiding other substances, like coffee or tea, is perhaps less obvious. However, we believe these instructions came from God, so we abstain from those substances.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has many cultural traditions and customs that focus on the family. For example, we try to reserve one night a week for a home evening, or family night. Other activities throughout the week include Church gatherings like potlucks, small parties, or youth groups for teenagers. Many of our traditions are standard—like celebrating holidays with our families—and others are more unique—like offering a blessing for a new baby during church. As families, we pray together, read scriptures together, and on the first Sunday of every month, we even fast together.

Learn more about our community or find a church near you.

Nope. Our families come in all shapes and sizes. Do we have a recommended family size? No again. That’s a deeply personal decision. Loving families can be big, small, or anywhere in between.

Explore more about our programs for children and youth or family resources

No. Early in Latter-day Saint history, the Lord directed a limited number of Church members to practice plural marriage. However, in the late 1800’s, God directed that the practice should be ended. Since then, the Church has taught that monogamy is the marriage practice that the Lord commands today. Although some groups today still practice polygamy, they are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints condemns racism in all forms and cherishes the diversity found among the members of our global body of believers. 

Jesus Christ’s gospel is for all people. The Book of Mormon teaches that Jesus invites “all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; … all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33).

The Church has always welcomed people of all races. However, there was a period when male members of African descent were not ordained to the priesthood (with some exceptions). We don’t know the reason for the restriction, but it was ended in 1978 after Church leaders sought divine guidance on the matter. Since then, priesthood ordination has been available to all worthy males in the Church.

Read more about race and the priesthood.

Individuals who identify as LGBT, and their families, are welcome to be part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All of us are children of God, who understands our hearts and loves us perfectly.

While the official stance of the Church is that any sexual relations outside of marriage are to be avoided, there is no sin in feeling same-sex attraction. Members are encouraged not to act on same-sex attraction or assume a gender identity other than the one they were born with.

We strive for greater understanding, love, and compassion for our brothers and sisters no matter how they identify. All have important and unique contributions to make to God’s kingdom on earth, and all are welcome to join and be part of our congregations.

Read more about our views on same-sex attraction and gender identity.

Our beliefs about marriage can be summarized with a few excerpts from The Family: A Proclamation to the World, an official declaration presented by Church leaders in 1995:

“Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and . . . the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. . . ." (para. 1).

“ … God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife” (para. 4).

“Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children” (para. 6).

“The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. . . . Fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.” (para.7).

These teachings take on special significance given that we believe marriage can last forever.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches teaches that sexual relations are reserved for men and women who are legally and lawfully married to each other. After marriage, God expects spouses to be completely loyal and faithful to their companions. We refer to this as the law of chastity.

We believe that through marital intimacy, couples can experience some of life’s most profound blessings, including the gift of children and a stronger bond between marriage partners. Our bodies are sacred (see 1 Corinthians 6:19–20), created in the image of God (see Genesis 1:27), and He wants us to treasure them. When you are sexually pure, you prepare yourself to build a strong marriage and to bring children into the world as part of an eternal and loving family.

Church Services

Church service times vary from congregation to congregation. However, you can always count on one main worship service for everyone, followed by classes for children, youth, and adults.

The service for everyone is called “sacrament meeting.” This meeting consists of songs, prayers, and sermons (or “talks”) given by different members of the congregation every week. But the most important part of the meeting is when we take the sacrament (which is similar to communion) to remember the Savior.

Learn more about Sunday services or find a church near you.

Yes! You are invited to join us for weekly activities, service projects, social outings, and worship services. We’d love to get to know you and will appreciate your involvement in our Church community.

Come join us! Find a church near you.

Yes. Women speak from the pulpit and serve as presidents of organizations. They are also leaders, counselors, teachers, and missionaries, and they have many other responsibilities. Learn more about our women’s group.

No. We don’t solicit donations or pass a plate during our services. Contributions by members are made privately. Learn more about tithing

Many people are uncomfortable with organized religion and prefer trying to be spiritual and live good lives. But the truth is, we need both! The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provides the structure and priesthood authority necessary to fulfill all of God’s commandments, including baptism and taking the sacrament (which is similar to communion). Going to church on Sundays is one aspect of worshipping God, and it is also important to be spiritual and serve others throughout the week.

Learn more about the benefits of organized religion.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was officially founded in Fayette, New York, in 1830. The first President of the Church was Joseph Smith. He had a vision of Jesus Christ and God the Father and was called by God as a prophet to restore the Church of Jesus Christ. He received the priesthood of God, translated the Book of Mormon, and sent missionaries to preach the gospel across North America and overseas. 

The Church headquarters moved to Ohio, Missouri, and then Illinois to escape persecution and find a place for its members to gather. Due to suspicion and local political conflicts, the Prophet Joseph Smith was unlawfully jailed in 1844 and killed by a mob. 

Brigham Young became the next President of the Church. He led the Saints across the plains of the United States to the Rocky Mountains of what is now Utah. Since that time, the Church has grown dramatically throughout the world. Today, there are over 16 million members in 170 countries worldwide.

Learn more about our community or find a church near you.

Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon is a book of inspired scripture that exists to give us direction in our lives and connect us to Jesus. Where does the name come from? Hundreds of years ago, an ancient prophet named Mormon compiled a record of his people. They faced a lot of the same challenges that we do. And just like us, they found strength when they turned to Jesus Christ. Receive your free copy of the Book of Mormon.

The Book of Mormon is meant to be read alongside the Bible as another testament of Jesus Christ and His divine mission as the Savior and Redeemer of the world. Together, the Bible and the Book of Mormon provide more understanding of God’s great love for all of us and can help us come closer to Him. 

Learn more about how the Bible and Book of Mormon work together.

Like the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon testifies of Jesus Christ. The central event recorded in the Book of Mormon is Jesus Christ’s visit—including His teachings and ministry—to believers in the ancient Americas. This account shows that God extends the same blessings and opportunities to all of His children and that His love isn’t confined to people from a single area of the world. No matter what language we speak or what we look like, God loves us and wants us to come closer to Him.

Here’s a synopsis of the epic thousand-year history recounted in the Book of Mormon:

In essence, the Book of Mormon is a story about a family. The father of that family, Lehi, is a prophet in ancient Jerusalem. God warns Lehi in a dream to take his family and leave Jerusalem because the city and its people will soon be taken captive by another nation. They cross the ocean to the Americas. Laman and Lemuel, the oldest sons, don’t believe their father, Lehi, was inspired. They are always complaining. Their younger brother Nephi is full of faith. Nephi is chosen by God to lead the family and be their teacher.

The people eventually split into two groups: the Nephites and the Lamanites. These groups are often at war, and their faith is constantly being tested. This faith fills the pages of the Book of Mormon in the form of powerful sermons, prophecies, life lessons, and spiritual experiences.

After Jesus is resurrected in Jerusalem, He appears to the people in the Americas. He teaches them about baptism and forgiveness. He heals their sick and blesses their children. He establishes His Church. Unlike those in Jerusalem, the people listen to Jesus. Afterward, they live in peace for hundreds of years. Over time, the people lose their faith and a prophet named Moroni buries their records to preserve them for a future time and people—for us! Joseph Smith was directed to those records and translated the Book of Mormon through the power of God. Its teachings increase faith in Jesus Christ and inspire millions of people today.

Receive your free copy of the Book of Mormon.

Like the Bible, the Book of Mormon has many authors. It is a collection of journals and histories passed down from one writer to another over a period of about 1,000 years. The first author is the prophet Nephi, who left Jerusalem with his family in 600 BC and sailed to the Americas. Nephi passed the record to his younger brother, who then gave it to his son. Each author gave the record to someone they trusted. Mormon was the name of the prophet who gathered all the writings into one book, so it is called the Book of Mormon.

In 1823 Joseph Smith was led to the ancient records and translated them by the power of God. 

Receive your free copy of the Book of Mormon.

The Book of Mormon testifies of and complements the Bible, giving more clarity and understanding to Jesus’s teachings. It’s kind of like in the Bible, how Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell the same stories about Jesus from different perspectives and it gives a more complete picture.

Together, the Book of Mormon and the Bible contain thousands of years’ worth of inspiration, guidance, and instruction. By studying both books, you can get a better understanding of who God is and what He wants for you. Learn more about how the Bible and Book of Mormon work together, or request a free copy of the Book of Mormon.

Temples and Weddings

It depends. Temples are only open to members of the Church who have worked to prepare themselves to get the most out of their temple experience. But when temples are first built or after they have undergone extensive renovations, open houses are held for the public so they can take a tour inside. Also, many temples have visitors’ centers and grounds that are open to all.

For Latter-day Saints, a temple is different from other Church buildings. It’s a place where members of the Church go to make promises with God. That includes promises to keep the commandments, to be faithful in marriage, and to help take care of each other by sharing what we have. Also, because we believe families are forever, lots of the work done inside temples is to make family bonds even stronger. Marriages in the temple are performed to last eternally, not just “until death do you part.” Parents and children become eternal families in temples. Ancestors can also receive all the blessings of the temple if someone performs the sacred ordinances in their behalf and they accept that act of service. Temples are busy places!

Families are central to God’s plan for our happiness, and marriage is meant to last beyond “until death do you part.” In the temple, husband and wife are united forever. This marriage ceremony is called a temple “sealing” because the couple is joined together for this life and for eternity. The bride and groom promise to honor and love one another completely and commit to follow the teachings and example of Jesus. In turn, they are promised that their marriage and their family will endure into the next life. In addition to the temple ceremony, however, weddings are often celebrated traditionally, with a reception for eating, dancing, and coming together to celebrate.

Specific and unique religious clothing is common in many religions and serves various purposes. The underwear worn by adult members of the Church serves as a private and personal reminder of our relationship with God, the promises we’ve made to Him in the temple, and our commitment to follow Jesus Christ and keep His commandments. The underwear is called the temple garment and consists of two pieces, similar to an undershirt and shorts. They are considered sacred to the members who wear them.

Yes. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can marry whomever they like. However, sacred temple marriages are reserved only for a man and a woman who are both members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and who have prepared themselves to make an eternal commitment to each other and to God.

Missionary Work

Every member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a duty to share the gospel of Jesus Christ; however, it is always a choice for someone to serve a full-time mission or not. Young people are especially encouraged to serve missions because it is such a great opportunity for learning, serving, and growing. Older individuals and couples serve as well.

Learn more about missionaries or meet with missionaries in your area.

No. As a matter of fact, many missionaries pay their own way. Often, they’ll save for years in advance. Sometimes families will make financial sacrifices to help send a missionary out. Older individuals and couples have to make financial decisions too, such as selling a home or retiring early.

Learn more about missionaries or meet with missionaries in your area.

No. In fact, “Elder” is not a name but a title for male missionaries. Female missionaries are similarly addressed as “Sister,” followed by their surname. They are titles of respect and honor.

Learn more about missionaries or meet with missionaries in your area.

In all cases, inspired Church leaders assign each missionary to a specific area where they will serve. Some will stay in their native countries, and some will go abroad. Older couples are given some influence on how and where they’ll serve. But missionaries young and old are happy to serve knowing the assignment ultimately comes from God.

Learn more about missionaries or meet with missionaries in your area.

Depending on the day, you can find missionaries visiting with others, volunteering in the community, teaching about God, and more. But they’re never too busy to help you if you need it. 

Meet with missionaries in your area.

Working in pairs helps keep missionaries safe. It is also patterned after the way Jesus instructed: “And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two” (Mark 6:7).

Learn more about missionaries or meet with missionaries in your area.

There are over 50,000 full-time Latter-day Saint missionaries throughout the world. There are likely missionaries in your area if you ever need them. 

Learn more about missionaries or meet with missionaries in your area.

Baptism

Yes. Jesus made it clear that being born of water and of the Spirit is necessary to enter the kingdom of heaven (see John 3:1–13). Jesus Himself was baptized—even though He was perfect—to set an example for us.

Because baptism includes making a promise to follow Jesus Christ and keep His commandments, we believe that a person must be able to discern right and wrong and have sufficient understanding to choose baptism for themselves. This is one reason why the Church doesn’t practice infant baptism. Instead, children may be baptized beginning at eight years old.

Baptisms must be performed by proper priesthood authority and in a manner consistent with how Jesus was baptized (by immersion). Proper baptism is a prerequisite for membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so previously baptized people are baptized again if they wish to join.

God has provided a way for everyone to receive all of His blessings—even after death. Baptisms and other essential ordinances can be performed on behalf of those who have died without the opportunity. The Apostle Paul spoke of baptism for the dead in the Bible (see 1 Corinthians 15:29), and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continue that same practice in temples today.

Here’s how it works: Latter-day Saints study their family history to discover names of people who have died without being baptized. Members are then baptized on behalf of those ancestors in the temple. This service for others is offered in love—and because life continues after death, those who have died are aware of the ordinances and can choose whether or not to accept them.

After a person is baptized, those with proper priesthood authority place their hands on the baptized person’s head to confirm him or her a member of the Church and give the gift of the Holy Ghost. When someone receives the Holy Ghost, it means the person may have the Holy Spirit with them as a constant companion to comfort and guide them and to witness of truth.

Jesus taught that baptism is required to enter the kingdom of heaven (see John 3:1–13). But what about people who die without being baptized or even knowing about Jesus? How can they be saved? 

Thankfully, God is loving and has provided a way for everyone to receive all of His blessings—even after death. In the temple, baptisms and other essential ordinances are performed on behalf of those who have died without the opportunity. The Apostle Paul spoke of baptism for the dead in the Bible (see Corinthians 15:29), and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continue that same practice in temples today. 

Here’s how it works: Latter-day Saints study family history to discover names of people who have died without being baptized. Members are then baptized on behalf of those ancestors in the temple. This service for others is offered in love—and because life continues after death, those who have died are aware of the ordinances and can choose whether or not to accept them. 

Learn More about Our Beliefs & Community