Recently I have bumped up against several mentions in national arenas of my faith. I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, LDS, or commonly referred to as the "Mormons". Anybody who wants to know what all Mormons believe can easily gain access to "The Articles of Faith" on www.lds.org. What follows are my personal beliefs with the context of that framework.
I believe that Jesus Christ is my personal Lord and Savior; that he literally came to earth, born to a virgin as the Son of God. He lived in, what we now call, Israel. Although the man who raised him was a carpenter, he was the rightful heir to the house of David. The young Jesus trained to become a rabbi, but he knew who he truly was and is. He selected several men from his followers to help him share the New Law. Some of these men demonstrated their own human frailties in their lives. The existing hierarchy of the church was not fond of Jesus. Together, with the Romans, they put him to death by cricifixion. He was placed in a borrowed tomb. On the 3rd day, he rose again. He first appeared to Mary Magdalene. He ascended to his Father, but returned to bear witness to his disciples. He allowed his life to be taken to atone for the sins of mankind and take our sorrows from us. From the life, death, and resurrection of this man came many churches based on one religion; the religion of Christ.
I believe that I am a daughter of a Heavenly Father who loves me and I love him. This is also the father of Jesus Christ. I believe that I show my love for my Father-in-Heaven by following his commandments including the 10 Commandments given to the prophet Moses, as well as others given by the Savior and the prophets. I believe that in order to live with God again, I must do the best I can with what I know and look to my Savior for forgiveness of my sins. As hard as I try, and I will continue to try, I would always fall short without the atonement of Christ.
I believe that the Holy Ghost, the 3rd member of the Godhead exists and is there to be a comforter and protector of mankind. I have felt his presence in my life and have come to understand the love that a Heavenly Father has for his children through his influence.
I believe that the Lord has placed prophets on the earth to lead people to the gospel. He did this in both ancient and modern times. Moses did not ask to lead the children of Israel. He was called by God. Likewise, John the Baptist was ordained by God to preach of the coming of the Savior. Prophets were also sent to the Americas to lead the people there. During the time known as the Dark Ages, prophets were not on the earth. However, God would not leave the world he created without spiritual leadership. A boy who had been chosen, just like Moses and John, read in the Bible that if he lacked wisdom, he could ask God. With pure faith, he went into a grove of trees and asked. He certainly did not expect to see God, but he did. Despite persecution and death, he never would deny what he saw. He was given an ancient record by an angel. Eventually he showed the gold plates to 8 other men. Some of these men would go on to leave the church that was organised by Joseph Smith, but none would deny the existence of the plates.
I do not claim to understand all of the works or intents of God. I do not know why Blacks were denied the priesthood in the early days of the church. I do know that Joseph Smith was opposed to slavery and a supporter of people of color in general. I certainly don't claim to understand polygamy, but I know it existed in the primitive church as well as in the early days of LDS history. Moses and Brigham Young were both polygamists. They both had some problems because of it. My 3rd great-grandfather, A.O. Smoot, was a polygamist. I have studied his life and find no evidence that he was a lecherous man. Indeed he was a philanthropist. My 3rd great-grandmother, Anne Mauritzdotter, was alone in the world when A.O.'s first wife suggested that she wed her husband (wife #4). I don't know what she thought, but she accepted and gave birth to a future senator as well as my grandmother's grandmother. Despite my lack of understanding, experience and logic show me that this church teaches truth, as instructed by God. (btw, polygamy is no longer practiced in the LDS church.)
I believe that the family is an eternal structure given to us by our Heavenly Father to help us through our earthly trials, even if sometimes they are our earthly trials. I believe that the bonds of family are strong, eternal, and good. I have felt the guiding hands of my ancestors in my life. There is nothing more important to me than my role in this plan of our Father-in-Heaven, to raise my children in a way that is pleasing to him.
This I believe.