Culture and Practices
Isolation in Utah had allowed Mormons to create a culture of their own. As the faith spread around the world, many of its more distinctive practices followed. Mormons converts are urged to undergo lifestyle changes, “repent of their sins,” and adopt sometimes foreign standards of conduct. Practices common to Mormons include studying the scriptures, praying daily, fasting on a regular basis, attending Sunday worship services, participating in church programs and activities on weekdays, and refraining from work on Sundays when possible. Mormons also emphasize standards they believe were taught by Jesus Christ, including personal honesty, integrity, obedience to law, chastity outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage.
Mormons have a strong sense of communality that stems from their doctrine and history. LDS Church members have a responsibility to dedicate their time and talents to helping the poor and building the church. The vast majority of church leadership positions are lay positions, and church members may work 10–15 hours a week in unpaid church service.Engaged Mormons also contribute 10 percent of their income to the church as tithing, and are often involved in humanitarian efforts. Many LDS young men choose to serve a two yearproselytizing mission, during which they dedicate all of their time to the church, without pay.
Mormons adhere to the Word of Wisdom, a health law or code that prohibits the consumption of tobacco, alcohol, coffee, and tea, and encourages the use of wholesome herbs, grains, fruits, and a moderate consumption of meat. The Word of Wisdom is interpreted to also prohibit other harmful and addictive substances and practices, such as the use of illegal drugs and abuse of prescription drugs. Mormons also oppose addictive behavior such as viewing pornography and gambling.
The concept of a united family that lives and progresses forever is at the core of Latter-day Saint doctrine. Many Mormons hold weekly family home evenings, in which an evening is set aside for family bonding, study, prayer and other wholesome activities. Latter-day Saint fathers who hold the priesthood typically name and bless their children shortly after birth to formally give the child a name. Mormon parents hope and pray that their children will gain testimonies of the “gospel” so they can grow up and marry in temples.
Mormons have a strict law of chastity, requiring abstention from sexual relations outside of marriage and strict fidelity within marriage. All sexual activity (heterosexual and homosexual) outside of marriage is considered a serious sin. Same-sex marriages are not performed or supported by the LDS Church. Church members are encouraged to marry and have children, and Latter-day Saint families tend to be larger than average. Mormons are opposed to abortions, except in some exceptional circumstances, such as when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, or when the life or health of the mother is in serious jeopardy.Practicing adult Mormons wear religious undergarments that remind them of sacred covenants and encourage them to dress modestly. Latter-day Saints are counseled not to partake of any form of media that is obscene or pornographic in any way, including media that depicts graphic representations of sex or violence. Tattoos and body piercings are also discouraged, with the exception of a single pair of earrings for LDS women.