Mormon culture vs gospel culture

A unique culture exists among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Each person lives their life based on their core beliefs. Each member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or “Mormon”) applies what they believe to choices they make, and over time a common culture has emerged. Anyone who has visited Utah will notice differences between the culture there an other places in the country. Some may be good, others not so good. For example, Utahns take good care of their yards, but Utahns aren’t very courteous drivers.

Welcome to Utah sign. From the Monroe family blog.

I’d like to talk about the difference between Mormon culture and Gospel culture. Mormon culture is the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group, in this case a group of Mormons. Gospel culture is the behaviors and beliefs taught in the gospel of Jesus Christ, as contained in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are different because Mormon culture may emerge from practices not founded in the gospel, for example eating green Jell-O with carrots. A person trying to live the gospel will inevitably do it imperfectly. So as Mormons live and practice their beliefs a Mormon culture emerges. Occasionally people get Mormon culture and the gospel mixed up. They think that the gospel teaches that you have to drive a big van, have lots of kids, and volunteer a lot. Or perhaps they had an experience where a Mormon said or did something less than Christlike and think the gospel condones such behavior. Neither is true. The gospel of Jesus Christ is perfect because it is based on eternal truth. Mormon culture is imperfect because it is the expression of imperfect people.

“There is a unique gospel culture, a set of values and expectations and practices common to all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This gospel culture, or way of life, comes from the plan of salvation, the commandments of God, and the teachings of living prophets. It is given expression in the way we raise our families and live our individual lives.” L. Tom Perry, October 2012 General Conference

Latter-day Saints around the world may not all live the same flavor of Mormon culture, but all of them are trying to live the gospel culture. Gospel culture includes choices like valuing marriage and family, keeping the Sabbath day holy, and studying the scriptures. I enjoy meeting other members in the church and finding out how they live the gospel, what they are working on right now, and hearing their testimonies about the happiness they have found. Here are a few examples:

I have also noticed that church leaders have tried to adapt teaching the gospel to all cultures. They are willing to discard cultural practices that are simply Mormon culture, while not changing the culture of the gospel. “While we treasure appropriate cultural diversities, our goal is to be united in the culture, customs, and traditions of the gospel of Jesus Christ in every respect.” (Elder Cook). Last time I flew on an airline, I sat next to a man who is married to an inactive returned missionary. He was raised a good Christian and they are raising a happy family based on Christian values. He knew a lot about Mormons and we had an interesting discussion about Mormon culture. I do not know why his wife decided to leave the church, but I imagine it’s probable someone could have offended her.

In some way and at some time, someone in this Church will do or say something that could be considered offensive. Such an event will surely happen to each and every one of us—and it certainly will occur more than once. Though people may not intend to injure or offend us, they nonetheless can be inconsiderate and tactless. Elder Bednar

I think if we realize the difference between the cultural practices of people who are Mormons and teachings of the gospel, it is easier to see that a Mormon may do something contrary to their beliefs even though the gospel itself is true. Also realize that living the gospel will look as unique as each person trying to do so.

A Mormon girl
A Mormon from India.
A Mormon from Guatemala.
A Mormon from Canada.
A Mormon grandpa.

As a mom, I have to be careful to not get a perfection complex. I call it Martha Stewart complex when someone tries to have a perfect home, fabulous meals, manicured appearance, well-dressed children, etc. Those things are nice, but in the end they are not important. What is important? The gospel. Because it is the key to happiness. I hope we can see past the imperfections of Mormon culture to unlock our potential through the gospel of Jesus Christ.


10 tips for a happy marriage–How they apply in my life

My husband and I recently celebrated our twelfth anniversary. It seems like just the other day AND a long time ago that we tied the knot! I’m excited for this Valentine’s day, not because I’m looking forward to getting fancy gifts, but because I love being married and I know I’ll get to spend a little extra time with my hubby.

The wedding day… just the beginning of happily ever after. Image source

In 2012, the Ensign shared some tips of what happily married couples do. I know what they are talking about, because I’ve learned to do these things. I’d like to share their ideas in my own words. Because real-life true love can best be found in a vibrant happy marriage. So, here are 10 tips for a happy marriage.

Positive conversations. a happy marriage is full of happy conversations. “What are you doing today? What do you want to do? What tasks are on your to do list? How can I help you with the things you are working on?” These are the kinds of conversations we have all the time. One thing that has helped our conversations is planning out our week together every Sunday night. We look at the calendar together and write what’s happening on a wipe off one-week calendar in the kitchen. We’ll add to do lists that we need to get done. It really helps to mutually plan out our goals for the week. When we sit down for meals, we can see the calendar and talk about what is coming up that day.
Know details. A couple knows and cares about all of the details of each other’s lives. I know everything about my husband, from the names of his pets to the name of his best friend in high school.

“In marriage the big things are the little things.”

-Elder James E Faust

Image source

Show affection. Physical affection reinforces other forms of love in a marriage. For some, including many men, physical affection says “I love you” stronger than words. A healthy marriage includes holding hands, sitting next to each other, hugs, and kisses. I’m not as naturally affectionate as my husband, but I love it when we walk around the back yard together holding hands or sit on the couch together.
Be each others best friends. You know your spouse better than anyone else. You are able to understand them best. Know their desires and talents, challenges, weaknesses and strengths. I like to think about how my husband has to put up with me. Before I get annoyed that he didn’t do dishes when I asked for help, I remember all the times I haven’t done dishes or been available to help him. Often the things I get annoyed at are things I do. If I remember that, I don’t get annoyed as easily. He’s already putting up with me and not saying anything about it.
Have a gospel perspective. Be humble and charitable. We know we’ll never be perfect in this lifetime, so we have to accept that in ourselves and family members. When I have a weakness or problem, I don’t want someone to constantly remind me of it and pester me about changing. I hope for love and acceptance and help to change as I am able. As a woman, I tend to be the one to fall into the “nagging” trap. Really the time to be picky about a spouse’s traits are before you marry them. Once you make the commitment, you need to accept them for who they are and love them no matter what.
Keep dating. When you do things enjoyable together, you enjoy being together. Of course it’s important to continue nurturing our most valuable relationship. If my husband and I have lots of work to do, perhaps we will spend time together working on a project together, but it is still time spent together. Sometimes I have a hard time spending money on “fun”, which makes me a stick in the mud for dates. Yet it is a lot cheaper to keep my marriage healthy than to have to pay for counselling. Some things we do for dates include grocery shopping, eating at a restaurant, exercising together, hiking, working in the yard, and looking at the night sky.

I love riding bikes for a date! It combines exercise, the outdoors, and time spent together. Image source
Image source

Share intimacy. A healthy relationship includes intimacy. We believe this is a sacred and God-given means of enriching a marriage. Like all other aspects of marriage, there is balance to meet the needs of each spouse. Intimacy is a natural outcome of a happy marriage relationship.
Spend time with children. As a couple matures, children join the family and add to the demands on both spouses. Caring for children is a major joint goal, with contributions from each parent. When I have a new baby, I am often tired and less interested in intimacy, yet so grateful when my husband is willing to nurture me and our new child. He may give me a break by holding the baby, or have a conversation with me to give me attention. I love watching him bond with our newborn. When I see how wonderful and loving he is with our children, I love and respect him more and want to do things to show love in return. It motivates me to want to cook nicer meals, go on dates, and show him affection. So once I adjust to the routine with the new baby, I am often even better at doing my own work and making time for him.

Image source

Ask for feedback. When you are in a position to make improvements, your spouse is the person who knows you best and can help you accomplish your goals. I like to talk about what things I do and don’t like about how a situation went and hear his opinion. Likewise, a good spouse is sensitive when the other is having a hard time. Usually I am the one having a hard time and venting my frustration and my husband is patient and tries to help me out until I feel better. Thanks, honey.
Trust. A marriage relationship is the closest relationship possible between people. Your spouse knows everything about you. In order to feel safe and happy in your relationship you must be able to trust each other. You must trust that even when your spouse sees you at your worst, they won’t hold it against you. They will keep on loving you and helping you be your best self. Anger and contention are Satan’s favorite tools for dividing us. When allowed into a marriage, they can destroy the trust so essential to the relationship. Even small things like sarcasm and criticism can damage a relationship.

A mature couple: comfortable with each other and happy just being together. Image source

I love being married. As time goes by, it seems like our ability to accomplish things together grows. I hope to continue to nurture my marriage and enjoy the fulfillment that comes with a happy marriage.

The Eternal Reality


The future plans God has for us are more grand and glorious that anything we can imagine.  They include mansions and thrones and power beyond belief.  So when a child dies and our heart breaks for all the things unsaid and memories never made, we are crying because we can’t see.  When everything seems lost, we must remember that Christ calmly gave up everything.  His mission is to prepare us for the role we will play in his Heavenly Kingdom.  Our job is to follow his direction and prepare even if life throws curve balls and we find ourselves being taught through suffering.  There is a purpose to it all.  We can’t see it, but He can.  Every promise He has ever made will be fulfilled.  We can count on that.

-from Andrea M, post “The Eternal Reality”

angel weeping statue

I wonder what God thinks of His children, us, sometimes. We know He thinks of us as children. He loves us and wants us to grow. In heaven, we were “nurtured near His side” (Eliza R Snow).

I look at my young children and laugh at the things they do as they’re learning and trying. I look at them with love and understanding and mercy. I love their innocence; their honesty. I know they will succeed eventually if they keep trying.

As my children grow, they will reach the period in their lives where they pull against me, testing out the limits of their freedom. They will have to take what I’ve taught them, evaluate it, and compare it to what they see in the world around them. Then in their hearts, they will choose what they believe. I fear for that time, because I know they could choose to walk a path that leads to heartache.

I think mortality is our spiritual adolescence. God taught us everything He possibly could, but there reached a point where we needed a place of freedom to test ourselves and find out what our hearts would choose. We couldn’t be tested in God’s presence, because who wouldn’t choose Him if they could see His glory and love all around? Life was devised as a Divine experiment, not for God, but for us.

We will succeed eventually if we keep trying, through the grace of God, our Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Someday, (not now–after our mortal life), we will see ourselves the way God sees us (1 Samuel 16:7, D&C 76:94). Our bias will fall away, we’ll know our own hearts, and we’ll confess that His plan was perfect.