The Nature of God
A paramount doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a belief in God the Father; His Son, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost. These three comprise the Godhead. They are one in purpose but separate in being.
The Church is Christian but is neither Catholic nor Protestant. Rather, it is a restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ as originally established by the Savior.
The Church emphasizes the need for divine authority. As Joseph Smith, first prophet and president of the Church, taught, "A man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof." The authority to act in God’s name is called the priesthood.
The first principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ are: "first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost," which is confirmation in the Church. Baptism follows the biblical example of immersion and is for the remission of one’s sins. Since young children are incapable of sin, they are not baptized until the age of eight, when they begin to become accountable.
Divine revelation for the direction of the entire Church comes from God to the President of the Church. The Presidents of the Church down through the years since it was restored in 1830 have been and are viewed by Latter-day Saints as prophets in the same sense as Moses, Abraham, Peter and other such biblical leaders. Parents are also entitled to receive revelation for raising their families, and individuals are entitled to divine revelation for meeting personal challenges.
In addition to the King James Bible, Mormons consider the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ as divinely inspired scripture. The Bible and the Book of Mormon are used side by side in Church curriculum with other approved scriptures: the Doctrine and Covenants, a compilation of revelations; and the Pearl of Great Price, a selection from the revelations, translations and writings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Purpose of Life
Each of us is literally a child of heavenly parents, with whom we lived before our premortal life, before our birth into mortality. Through God’s divine plan, we come to earth to receive a physical body, gain experience and prove ourselves worthy to return and live with Him forever. Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, everyone will be resurrected, and through His atonement, all may partake of His grace, love, mercy and forgiveness.
Family and Marriage
Family relationships are central to the gospel of Jesus Christ. "The Family: A Proclamation to the World," issued by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1995, proclaims that "the divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally." Thus, in addition to its thousands of meetinghouses, or chapels, the Church builds temples around the world where faithful members can receive these unique and sacred family ordinances.
The Church follows the Savior’s law of strict morality. Faithful Church members observe principles of honesty, integrity, obedience to law, chastity outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage. The Church opposes abortion, pornography and gambling.
"The Word of Wisdom," a health code revealed to Joseph Smith in 1833, cautions against using tobacco, alcoholic beverages, tea and coffee and emphasizes the positive benefits of wise eating habits and physical and spiritual fitness. The Church teaches against the misuse and abuse of all drugs—illegal or legal.
Tithing and Fast Offerings
The Church embraces the biblical principle of tithing, which is contributing one-tenth of one’s income. The tithes of the members enable the Church to finance the construction of buildings, and finance education, welfare, missionary, humanitarian and other programs Members of the Church are asked to fast for two meals one day a month and to donate the money they would have spent on those meals, or more, to help the needy.
The Church accepts the Savior's charge to "go . . . into all the world" and share the blessings of the gospel (see Mark 16:15). Consequently, the Church has more than 50,000 full-time missionaries serving throughout the world. Most are college-age men and women, but some are retired couples. All have accepted a call from Church leaders and serve at their own expense for a year and a half to two years.
Prophets have taught that "when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God" (Mosiah 2:17). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints functions with a lay ministry, giving millions worldwide the opportunity to grow by rendering faithful Christian service to others.